I am writing this post for the DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Ghosts of December 23rds Past sitting next to a 2 yr old named Ella (dressed in jeans, pink sweater, and black uggs) and her Dad on a plane. Dad is trying desperately to get Ella to behave and Ella is thwarting his attempts. So far she has committed the sins of trying to unbuckle her seat belt during take-off and pressing all the buttons on the arm of my seat. Twenty minutes in I think she’s freaking adorable and Dad has handed her that babysitter of all babysitter’s the Ipad. We’ll see how I feel when I get off the flight. I Spend every Dec 24th or 25th leaving on a jet plane and so for this week’s post a summation of my airport Christmas.
“ I think one of the main reasons for holidays is to remind us why we live the lives we do and help us be thankful the rest of the year”
That was the text I got from my bff Jenny last night after a long conversation about holiday stress at her parents in Florida. The stress involved her parents not knowing the network security key to their wi-fi.
“That is a great reason” I replied, thinking about my flight the next day.
Earlier yesterday I had my usual, why did I book that flight again moment? That moment I realize I won’t get to see my two dogs, my cat, or my husband for the next five days. That moment I realize my Mother is going to try to make me fat. That moment I realize I have to actually do laundry, so I can actually have something to wear, and how on earth do I stuff it in my carry-on? That moment I realize I have to spend time with my extroverted parents for the next five days, which as an introvert gives me shivers of horror up my spine.
This all came out in a long moan and a “I don’t’ want to leave”, complete with puppy dog eyes, to my husband over coffee. “But you’ll have fun” he replied and gave me a pat on the knee. I stared into the eyes of my dogs, as I thought how awful it was my parents have no pets. I mean who doesn’t have a cute furry thing to cuddle? My parents that’s who.
I spent the day avoiding packing, so I packed all day. I did laundry in the morning. Then I had to figure out what to pack. Nothing was right. I folded a selection of clothes, reselected different clothes, folded those, and put the clothes I had folded first back. Around dinner I threw all the carefully folded clothes in my tiny zebra print carry-on with the pink lining.
I had a nervous breakdown at ten, because I couldn’t light the candle my husband got me for Christmas. I feel totally pathetic stating that as a 27 year old woman trying to use a lighter to light the candle made me burst into tears. My greyhound had farted in the bedroom, it smelled awful, the candle would help, I wanted to go to bed early, I couldn’t go to bed early because of the fart smell, my husband wasn’t there, and I might actually have to act like a grown-up and do hard things, like use a lighter, myself. As is normally true the tears weren’t about the candle at all.
Truth is I feel like crying every time I leave Denver now. When I book the flight to Chicago months earlier I’m excited. Excited to see my parents, my nieces and nephew, my girlfriends in Chicago, excited to break the routine of my life, excited to go home. Then when the moment arrives I don’t want to leave. I look around my house and think about how nice it is, and how I like my routine, and wouldn’t it just be nice to stay. Then I remember the flight cost over 200 dollars, so I’m going.
I moved to Denver from Chicago three years ago. The first Christmas I was ecstatic to go home. My move had been rough, my job was hellish, and I was lonely. I needed my parents spoiling. In Denver I had a new boyfriend, Brandon, who fought back tears dropping me off at the airport.
My second Denver Christmas, Brandon and I were living together. We went Christmas crazy, bought more decorations than we could hang, and so many presents they took hours to open. We both felt neutral about my leaving for Chicago that year. I was excited to see my family and my boyfriend was excited to have uninterrupted video game time.
My third Denver Christmas, Brandon asked me “if we could update our facebook relationship status?” and produced a diamond ring from his pocket. I then blubbered something to the effect of yes. I did not update my facebook relationship status until I got back from Chicago, because I wanted to surprise my Chicago family with my news. I was brimming with excitement.
My fourth Denver Christmas we are newly-weds and today marks one year since we got engaged. In that year I planned our wedding, we got married, we bought a house, we got our third pet, I completed my second degree, I lost my job that I hated so that was cool, I made some new friends. It’s been a great year.
Which brings me back to the candle. I was crying because part of me doesn’t want 2013 to be over, it was a great year. 2014 is uncertain for us and I have no exciting plans.
So here I am on a plane, leaving my house, and my pets, and my new husband for Christmas. Today I am happy and over my candle breakdown. Christmas is the best time to fly. The normal rude anxiety in the air is replaced with patience and good cheer for all. Dressed in black and polka dots, I managed to get up early, have everything together, stop at the store, get through airport security in under thirty minutes, and have blog post writing time. My flight wasn’t delayed and Ella, the two yr old, next to me on the flight is to die for cute.
I am excited to see my mother, whom I love to pieces, and she is excited to see me. I am excited to be spoiled rotten and not have to do any chores. I am excited to see my nieces open the Barbie dolls I bought them for Christmas. My husband is right I will have a good time.
I am equally, if not more, excited to go back to Denver again on Sunday. I love seeing the Rockies again. I love the big hug I get from my husband when he meets me at the airport. I love being smothered by pet kisses when I walk in my front door.
This rambling post brings me to my main thought this week which is that the cliché saying “Home is where the Heart is” is true. I am blessed with two homes. My Chicago home is waiting for me when I get off the plane. A place I spent the formative years of my life that holds good memories and love for me. My Denver home is waiting for me when I fly back on Sunday. My home that I built for myself with hard work, leaps of faith through many uncertain times, and yes, love.
I love flying at Christmas because the plane takes me home every time. And I sit at the airport, and on the plane, happy in the knowledge that everyone else is going home too, and imagining the joy they will feel when they get to their destination.
On the plane I have time to reflect on my home and my heart. I have time to realize that the life I have chosen to live is the life that I love. Time to remember how wonderful my husband and pets are, despite the daily annoyances I often focus on. Time to remember how loving and kind my parents are and what a great thing living a thousand miles away is. Time to be proud of myself for following my heart to my true home in Denver.
Jenny told me last night that following your heart is a rare thing to do. She’s right. I, for one, have often found myself tangled in what other people think I should do, what societal norms tell me I should do, and sticking with safety. It is rare to buck all those things to do what your heart says you should do. I have managed to do that more than once now and I have learned that it always leads to the life I want to have.
So sitting on this plane reflecting on home and heart, my Christmas wish to you is that you will be one of the rare ones and follow your heart to the home(s) it finds love in.
Postscript: Ella fell asleep and therefore I got off the plane still thinking she’s freaking adorable. My mother hasn’t stopped talking since I arrived, seriously she talked for six hours straight, and I’m exhausted. My husband has sent me multiple “I miss you texts”. Jenny and I have continued to discuss our crazy families. I have had multiple cups of tea, wrapped some presents, talked to a lot of people I love, and all in all it’s a great Chicago Christmas.