I feel my stomach drop three feet. Hot coffee spills onto my brand new skirt as turbulence rocks the plane.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, sorry again for the delay. The storm in the Washington DC area has worsened and no planes are landing or taking off”
You’ve got to be frigging kidding me. The groan of passengers around me drowns out the pilot’s voice. The next words I hear are “Thank you for your patience, we’ll be landing back in Pittsburgh shortly.”
Great, I mumble to myself as I make an effort to dab the spilled coffee. I have been trying to get home to DC for hours. I promised my husband Paul I’d be there in time for dinner, but storms have messed with my flight all afternoon. This was our second attempt at getting into Reagan Airport. The first time, we ended up sitting on the tarmac in Pittsburgh for 45 minutes before getting the all clear for Air Traffic Control. This time, we had just made it to cruising altitude and now we were turning around again.
I sit back and close my eyes. I don’t mind flying, but I hate the process. The cattle call of people waiting to board a flight always reminds me of a dog begging for a treat. We all wait anxiously, alert to every move the gate agent makes. We hover around the boarding area until they call our group.
When it’s finally our turn, we make an attempt at being polite by letting one or two people go ahead of us. In reality, we just want everyone to get the hell out of the way so we can get to our seat before all the overhead bin space is gone. Once in our seat, we dig around in our bags or play with our phones while everyone else continues to file in. Eye contact is usually never made because if you look even remotely interested, you might be stuck listening to blowhard Bob drone on about successful he is. Nobody wants to sit next to that guy.
We land once again in good old Pittsburgh. The flight attendant makes a final announcement telling us we must take our bags and leave the plane. Dammit. That means only one thing. The flight has been canceled.
After a mad rush to the ticket counter, I’m told there are no more flights going out tonight. It’s 7 pm, I’m exhausted, and my feet are killing me. These new three inch pumps aren’t practical for travel. But I wanted to make a good impression when I met with my literary agent this afternoon. I didn’t want to come across as some bored housewife trying to get my little mystery book published.
I needn’t have worried. The meeting went well and Judith was nice about the changes she recommended. It was good to meet her in person after emailing back and forth for almost a year. She made me feel comfortable and gave me good feedback on my book. So at least part of this day went well.
I managed to reserve an early flight for the next morning and grab a hotel room for the night. When I get to my room I drop my bag onto the luggage rack. I should call Paul and let him know what’s going on. I also want to give him the good news about the book. I know he tries to be supportive but I can tell he’s not that excited about it. Paul seems to be happiest when I’m being Suzie Homemaker. He always talks about how hard he has worked to get to where we are now. He says I should just take it easy and enjoy our comfortable new life. Well, I don’t consider it a comfort to sit at home alone while he works late every night. I don’t especially find comfort in joining any fancy clubs either. Rubbing shoulders with people I don’t give two shits about. They don’t give two shits about us either. Those people are fake boring asses. In fact, Paul was becoming one of them. He’s becoming a bore and an ass. He’s always after me to act and dress appropriately for our “status”.
I decide to get the conversation over with, knowing he won’t be happy with my being away another night. And sure enough, as soon as I start to tell him about my day he interrupts me and I hear the exasperation in his voice.
“You know, Rose, this hobby of yours is becoming more than what we agreed on. Now it’s starting to interfere with our lives. I need you here “
I immediately tense up as I grip the phone tighter. Here we go, and after the last few hours I’ve had I’m not in the mood to placate him this time.
“It’s never been just a hobby Paul, and you know it. I’ve wanted to be a writer since high school. And just because I put it on hold for a while doesn’t mean it’s not still important to me.”
I can hear the sound of ice going into a glass. He’s having his nightly Scotch. “And what about kids? We had a plan, Rosie. Buy a house and start a family. I don’t know why you have fight to me at every turn. I let you go today to prove that you don’t have what it takes. Yeah, I’m sure the agent smiled and nodded but as soon as you left I bet she threw your manuscript in the trash. Grow up Rose and come home.”
I feel my face get hot as I pace the floor. Is he serious? I always knew could be a self-centered prick, but this is the first time he’s actually been mean. I kick off my shoes in frustration and watch as the left one flies across the room and hits the window.
I take a deep breath and try to keep my voice from shaking. “You let me go, Paul? I don’t need your permission to do anything. And, not that you care, but they love my book. They’re even talking about pushing it forward for publishing.” I don’t want this fight right now. I try to calm myself and lower my voice. “Besides, having kids was your plan Paul, not mine. At least not yet. I just need a little more time”
It gets quiet on the other end of the line. I think he might have hung up when I hear a deep sigh. It’s the one he uses right before saying something that usually pisses me off. “Here’s the deal, Rose. I want kids. I want to be the guy at the company cookouts with the pretty wife and the two point five kids. They love a family man. If I want to go any higher I need the blasted kids. So either come home and throw those legs up in the air so we can make a damn baby, or don’t bother coming home at all.”
I stand there in shock as the line goes dead.
A slamming door wakes me the next morning. I glance at the clock to see it’s only 5 am. My flight doesn’t leave until 9. My head is pounding and I feel a little sick to my stomach. Sitting up I notice the empty bottles next to the mini bar. Oh yeah. I had myself a little pity party last night. Maybe pity is the wrong word. I was mad as hell. In the shower I let the hot water wash away the fatigue. I feel myself relax as I hum a tune I remember from high school. Something about shaking it off. My thoughts wander to the busy day ahead of me. I wiggle my hips and dance a little as I stand in front of the mirror blow drying my hair. I take a sip of the hotel room coffee. It’s weak as shit but I’ll grab the good stuff at the airport.
I pick up the phone and make a call to the airline. The representative is cheerful and gives me exactly what I asked for. “I have you ticketed for the 10:00 am flight to New York. First Class. One way. Can I assist you with anything else today?” I say no thank you. I have everything I need.
I call for an Uber and as I wait outside I glance up into the morning sun. I breathe in the crisp fresh air and take in the clear sky. No sign of yesterday’s storm. The driver is a cute, friendly guy and he strikes up a conversation on the way to the airport. “Are you one of those poor stranded passengers from last night?”
“Yes. It was definitely a long day.”
“Is DC your home then?”
I lean my head back on the headrest, close my eyes and smile.