My day is full of transition. So is this month. I am sitting in an internet hub at LaGuardia on a Friday afternoon, waiting to grab a flight to Richmond, Virginia to visit my sister for a recharging weekend before the chaos of July. I am being bombarded with sounds… cable news from above and security reminders blasting from the sides… screaming kids climbing all over their mothers pepper the sea of crowded plastic chairs. The cacophony becomes a din as I recall one of my most vivid memories growing up.
Family vacations almost always meant one thing: we are going to see someone in the family do some sort of insane athletic feat. Marathons, biathlons, crew regattas, kayak races… I was born into an incredibly athletic family. I myself tricked my dim gym teacher constantly to get out of gym class and only played softball because I had a crush on a girl who signed up with me in junior high. One of the last family vacations that didn’t involve fitness happened when my parents were still together and we headed to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit my godparents. I was in high school and my sister skipped out because she was in college. A seven hour flight delay on the way home in this very food court served as the stage for one of the most hilarious marital fights I have ever seen… and the actors? My parents.
We had arrived in LaGuardia after a long weekend in sun. My parents, still booze-soaked and bloated, ushered me to a plastic red seat in the corner of the C terminal, right in the southeast corner of the main food court. We sat. They read. I listened to my discman. I was on my third listen to “Now! That’s What I call Music” (the original) when the announcement came that our 4pm flight was indefinitely delayed. Eventually, they found another plane to take us but it wouldn’t come until at least 9pm. The airline’s solution to a seven hour delay? Five dollar food vouchers… one for each warm body waiting to get back to scenic Buffalo, NY. My father stormed away before getting his, and my mom collected all three of our vouchers from the desk attendant. I put Matchbox 20′s “3am” on hold (track 3, ironically), my mother packed me up like a canyon mule, and we went to go find my dad. We looked in vein through the food court (there was no bar so we were clearly looking in the wrong spot). Eventually, my mom dragged my ass to a kiosk for dinner. As we stood in line for salads, my father came sauntering up. My mother, trying to assuage his clear frustration, asked in a hush voice if he wanted any food. The argument escalated, my mother flapping the food vouchers in his face and my dad blustering vitriol in anyone’s general direction. The fight culminated in my mother viciously whispering that at least we received free food vouchers for dinner. To that, my father lost his shit. He screamed at the top of his lungs, “YOU CAN’T EVEN BUY A FUCKIN’ PACKET OF JUNIOR MINTS WITH THOSE, KATH!”
He stormed off and went back to the airport bar… and he was right. Our two salads and one bottle of water cost over 25 dollars. By the time we boarded the flight to get home at 11pm, they entered the plane separately and Dad poured himself into the seat next to me. For Christmas a few months later, I found a novelty Junior Mints magnet and slipped it in Dad’s holiday Hallmark. He smiled when he opened the card and slipped the magnet in his pocket. I still don’t know if my mom ever saw it.
Transition creates stress. Work, interpersonal relationships, summer social engagements… everything becomes incredibly overwhelming. I encourage you as we head into one of the busiest times of the summer to stop and take time to enjoy whatever transition you may be going through. And instead of hitting the bar immediately, try treating yourself to some Junior Mints. I just picked some up and they are getting me through this three hour layover. So refreshing.