I don't go back very often; it's easier and cheaper to bring my parents to DC than it is to fly to them with three monkeys and their corresponding crap. The last time I visited Sioux Falls my father was having emergency bypass surgery. I boarded a plane with no luggage – I bought clothes when I landed – and abandoned Bump with two small children and plans to move heavy furniture the next day, in the midst of an expansive home renovation.
My mother called me yesterday afternoon because my father has been hospitalized. I have once again made a last-minute trip to FSD, although on this occasion I took the time to pack several pairs of my own (clean!) underpants, among other items.
Highlights thus far (other than the underpants thing)
- I had two beers and a decent crab cake at National Airport. No, really.
- Dad looks better than I expected. He's not ready to pitch the softball season opener or anything, but I had braced myself for a shriveled old man lying in a hospital bed, connected to various wires and beeping machines. He's . . . oddly random. One minute he's awake and asking about Bump's fantasy football team, the next he's half asleep and snoring or muttering or giggling and grinning like a newborn with wicked gas. I dunno.
- The airline is a complete and total asspimple. I feel nickel-and-dimed to death, and am the victim of several small-scale extortion plots, of that I am certain. ("You want to see your father? That will be $1200. Oh, it's a medical emergency? Well, in that case, it will be $700. To go to South FUCKING Dakota. We have cheap flights to Paris and Tokyo, and your kids could fly free to Turks & Caicos or Bermuda, but since you want to go to exotic South Dakota, chaCHING. Pay up, sucker. Oh, you want to use frequent flier miles? Then it will be $150, because you want to leave today. Next time please plan your medical emergencies 21 days in advance.") Fuckers.
- I was saved once again from my own glorious stupidity by -- well, more stupidity. I decided to take Nathan Jr to FSD with me. It would provide my mother with some happy distraction and relieve Bump a bit from several solid days of solo child care. Bump and I dithered about whether or not it was a good idea to take the baby, but my aunt offered to provide backup babysitting if Nathan Jr proved too taxing for my mother or the hospital setting was too stressful for him. Plus, he could still fly for free. Take that, airline. While I was furiously packing my things Bump packed for Nathan Jr. On the way to the airport I realized we forgot his passport/birth certificate/proof of age, which the reservations agent assured me was necessary for him to fly as a lap infant. He stayed home with Bump.
- Dad's IV drip sounds like a mewing kitten, which is either cute or makes me want to drown it in a burlap sack. It depends on when you ask me.
- There were some amazing lightning flashes at the Minneapolis airport (one cannot fly directly to FSD), along with heavy rain. While beautiful, it created some seriously rough flying conditions. I was pleased not to have a toddler-sized projectile on my lap.
- As I settled into my seat with the in-flight magazine, I had a flash to a different timeline. Bump and I still had two incomes and no children, and could leave at a moment's notice for a weekend excursion. After at least one drink in the terminal bar/restaurant, we would jet off to somewhere fun, where massages and art museums awaited. (Okay, we never went to art museums or got massages. More likely, our schedule included a tee time, dinner reservations, and at least one incident of drunk puking by yours truly.)
- Then I flashed to another alternate timeline, one where I brought Nathan Jr with me as planned. Instead of my seatmate exchanging gracious pleasantries with me, he was scowling at a squirmy squealy sweaty fat toddler who kicked and flailed and yelped before crying and sinking out of my lap to the floor between my knees by arching his back wildly and turning his arm and shoulder bones to jelly.
- I blame all the flashing on that damn Lost finale.
- My brother will arrive in Sioux Falls this morning, and I have warned him that if he doesn't show up with a cooler and plenty of beer I am going to punch him in the throat.