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Strangers In a Strange Land, Part One – Flying

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This begins a few posts talking about our recently completed family trip to Washington, D.C. and New York City. Enjoy!

You know that feeling of irrational paranoia and terror that’s welling up deep inside you while the rational parts of you are saying there isn’t a problem?

That was going on inside of me over a week ago, as on that Saturday, all five of us took our packed bags, piled into two cars driven by my parents, and headed to the airport at some ungodly hour of the morning.

We’d discussed and decided to take the trip months earlier. It would be a week-long trip to Washington and New York–places where most of the family had never been before. It was to be a grand adventure, seeing sites only seen on television and in pictures.

We had been booking hotels, purchasing air and train tickets, and prepping for all the trip had to offer for months. And, Jenni and I were working on steeling our kids for their first airplane flights. Couple that with the need to feed five people through the hassle that is the TSA security line, and you may begin to see the source of my distress.

We made the conscious decision to get to the airport early in order to make sure we got through security in time, just in case there were hassles. And thanks to all of us waking up earlier than planned, and my parents arriving earlier than planned, we found ourselves in the screening line nearly two-and-a-half hours before takeoff.

The kids were tired and obviously anxious, but Jenni and I bookended them in line to make sure we went through pretty much as a group. Everyone was given their boarding pass, and then we got to the front of the line.

Boarding passes were scanned. IDs for the adults were closely reviewed. Shoes were removed. Belts were shed. Pockets emptied. Liquids placed on top of carry on bags. Plastic bins were filled. And then we went through the backscatter machine.

After all that worry that somehow, something would happen with the kids going through the line, it was me. I was the only one who raised any kind of problem. The backscatter scanner saw something on my back…Thickness, sweat, some sort of spectre, who knows. I was summarily patted down, cleared, and reunited with my stuff and my family, all of whom sailed through the process without so much as a beep.

By 8:12 a.m.–almost exactly two hours before departure–we were cleared and walking through the concourse in search of breakfast. And a place to sit until boarding.

But finally, our “zone” on the plane was called, and we got on, found bins to stash our luggage, and settled in for the flight with Jenni and I at the windows, and the kids in the middle and aisle seats so that they could be a little more insulated from the anxiety of a first airplane flight.

Eventually, the plane was pushed back. We taxied to the runway, and then accelerated for takeoff. Zoe–my seatmate–looked at me with a big grin, and an even bigger one once we lifted off the ground. By the time we arrived in D.C., all three kids decided they liked flying.

They got the window seats on the way home…

See you tomorrow for more from Washington, D.C.