Watching Airplanes

“Hurry, Daddy! Mommy’s plane is going to leave in five minutes!” my 3-year-old, Jacob, was just a bit excited about the unexpected variation in his typical morning routine. We had just dropped Mommy off at the terminal and were driving to the cell phone lot to watch her plane take off. Luckily, despite Jacob’s concerns, the airport gods were smiling on us and we made it just in the nick of time.

Not Mommy's airplane in the background; Jacob looking on

Not Mommy's airplane in the background; Jacob looking on

Mind you, when I said we had just dropped Mommy off at the terminal, I meant just that: we had literally said our goodbyes about three minutes prior. However, Orlando International was operating at peak efficiency on this particular morning because there it was, a mere seconds after we had parked our car and gotten out to stand and watch the runway through a towering chain link fence with a stretch of menacing barbed wired running along the top, Mommy’s plane, taxiing for takeoff in our direction. We had a perfect view. 

“Here it comes,” I said, pointing out the plane to Jacob who was standing at attention by my side. I was holding my 1-year-old, Bennett, who was overall less enthused about the whole situation, but did perk up a bit as the plane roared in our direction. 

“Wave,” I instructed as the plane approached. Jacob and Bennett both waved obediently. I sincerely hoped that was a good omen for the week to come. We had survived a night or two here and there without Mommy, but as I stood there, waving goodbye to her fictitious plane, a week suddenly felt like a really long time.

After Mommy’s plane floated out of view, we stuck around for few more minutes to watch a few more planes land and takeoff. We did have about a week’s worth of time to kill after all. A Southwest plane landed next and quickly decelerated as it hurtled in our direction. It made a u-turn right in front of us before heading off toward the terminal. 

“Let’s wave again.” We all waved. 

If anyone reading this was on a Southwest plane that arrived in Orlando on Tuesday, June 22, 2015 at around 7:50 a.m. and made a u-turn right after it landed, did you see us? As I mentioned, we were standing right by the fence. You might have noticed a man of average height and slender build with an overall bearing reminiscent of hungry raccoon holding a 14-month-old curly-haired child who you might’ve thought was about 18-months-old, standing next to a 3-year-old boy with a neat haircut and gangly limbs holding a brown blanket, all three waving and smiling as if all of their best friends and favorite relatives were on board. You might’ve turned to your seatmate, a dour-looking young man in his early twenties with jet black, over-styled hair, an eyebrow ring, and wispy facial hair, wearing a black, “That’s What She Said” t-shirt, and asked, “Are they with you?” Of course, he wouldn’t have heard you; because he would’ve had his ear buds in and would’ve been lost in the sounds of Pink Floyd. Anyway, that was us. 

Sure, I was a bit self-conscious about the whole waving thing at first, but then I thought, heck, half of the people on these planes are wearing Mickey Mouse ears or will be wearing Mickey Mouse ears in the next few days: who are they to judge? So we kept waving.

“Where are the planes going?” Jacob asked me. 

“I don’t know. Where do you think they are going?”

“To an airport.”

While technically accurate, we certainly learned something today: Jacob might be very imaginative in most situations, but apparently not when it comes to potential travel destinations. I decided not to ask him where he thought Mommy was going; I felt like I already knew the answer.