Ok, ok, this is a little long, so I've enticed you with a photo from the trip of me and the boy. I try to keep us both offline, but if it means you'll make it to the end, I'll do it.
Here we are, safely back in Dallas, with no future trips planned. It's time to settle in, meet the neighbors, and start life as Texans. I may start life over as a travel writer specializing in "The Aisle Seat in the Back Reserved for Moms," a most exotic destination.
Prior to my ATL to DFW connection yesterday, the boy and I had flown 15 legs together. I erroneously thought I'd learned every lesson the travel gods have forcefully hurled my way, but Flight #16 had something extra special in store.
It reared its ugly head just seconds before we crossed the finish line and sucker punched me while I was exhaling. It hurt.
If you're hanging on my every word as I'm sure you are, you'll recall that I learned a few weeks ago via an overnight diversion that one should never assume a direct flight will get you to your destination on the same day.
That one hurt. A bit of my travel innocence was lost as I learned through experience that airlines treat business travelers and moms traveling alone the same way. Ouch.
On Flight #16, I learned something even more unpleasant. Apparently, the journey is not over when you touchdown in your city. Only walking through your front door puts points on the board.
This travel episode had such a bright beginning and middle that I started daydreaming about names for my travel consulting business. There were stroller assists, kind Grandmas, empty rows, easy connections, and one happy baby. When we touched down at DFW I hugged the boy and thanked him for such an enjoyable journey.
Some blatant foreshadowing: I did this too soon.
My husband left a car for us at the airport and texted me its locale. What he neglected to tell me was it was down three flights of stairs. He was thinking about keeping the car shaded. I was thinking about the stroller, the backpack, and the suitcase on wheels.
Like the boyscout I never was, I attempted the first flight using only my own ingenuity. Remember the riddle about the fox, the chicken, and the grain getting across the river intact? It looked something like that. Luckily, a policeman on a Segway sped over as I attempted this a second time and got us to safety.
In the car, the baby immediately fell asleep and I steered us out of the airport maze for the quick trip home. Roxy, my GPS, assured me we'd make it in about 25 minutes.
Cue ridiculous traffic.
Holy hell, Dallas, are you some kind of major city with a rush hour? Oh $hit.
My husband and I have lived in Boston. We've lived in Chicago, too, but for the past six years we've been in a medium-sized city with lots of neat amenities, cool restaurants, and zero traffic. Welcome back to reality.
The traffic was manageable until the sleeping giant in the backseat awoke hungry for dinner. Listening to him scream like he might die while going seven miles an hour was a huge problem because navigating Dallas is still a little bit like warping from world to world on Mario Brothers. I shoot down the highway, exit and end up magically where I'm supposed to be.
I took fate into my own hands and left the parking lot on 635 East. Once again, I put to use my meager boyscout skills and headed north on surface roads. As it turns out, they are also fairly congested in Dallas during rush hour.
Very close to ripping the steering wheel off the column, I made a sharp right turn into a Chili's parking lot to give the boy a bottle. Except when I opened my backback from which I could pull ANYTHING while in-air, I couldn't find it. "EFFFFFF!" I screamed louder than the baby's cries as I realized I'd left the extra formula back in Terminal T at ATL.
I MacGyvered together a snack from bread, water, and Happy Baby puffs to no avail. I would have tried to do something boyscout-like but whittling a fire or earning a badge would not have solved my problem as I idled curbside at Chili's.
Two and a half hours after we left DFW, we arrived home. In that time, we could have flown back to ATL and part of the way back to NY.
I'd like to thank my tormentors for what I hope is the final time. Travel Gods, thank you for keeping my travel hubris in check. I was beginning to think I was back in my pre-pregnancy travel shape. Clearly, I've got some work to do. Thanks for the reminder that you're never quite the same after having a baby.