Friday, September 16, 2011

Flying Away from the Empty Nest

I find I'm having a bit of trouble adjusting to my big, empty house, now that we don't have any kids living under our roof (except for our youngest, who will be coming back home during college breaks and summer vacations). The biggest problem I'm having is that I'm not sleeping as soundly or as long as I used to. As the wife of an airline pilot, I had to adjust long ago to sometimes sleeping alone in my bed; but there were always other people in the house with me, sleeping in the other bedrooms. These days, when I get into bed at night, I've noticed that our house seems to creak a lot more than it used to.

I've always been a champion sleeper--it's my greatest talent. My norm is to sleep so deeply that I seldom remember any dreams. I can fall asleep on a dime, with two cups of coffee in my system and a movie that I've been dying to see in the DVD player. Even the splendiferous hi-def action on our big-screen T.V. and the movie surround-sound cranked to high volume can't rouse me when I'm in sleep mode. I can sleep with a book in my hand and wake up hours later to find that I haven't lost my place. I can sleep holding a cup of coffee without spilling a single drop. Sleeping like a proverbial log--that's my wheel house; that's what I'm missing these days. The bags under my eyes are growing like nobody's business.

Two days ago, as I was dropping my husband off at the bus station (where he catches the bus that takes him to the aiport for work), I suddenly had an epiphany: instead of staying home alone every time he goes on a trip, I should go with him! Not every time, but sometimes. I was so excited about this novel idea--I only wished I'd thought of it in time to pack and go with him on his three-day trip to Dublin that very day. He was in Dublin yesterday, dontcha know*, and I could have been there, too--sipping a pint in a pub, instead of being here all by my lonesome. (*Imagine this phrase said with a brogue, like the Lucky Charms leprechaun or the Irish Spring actors, for a better effect.)

It's sad, but in all the years he's been a pilot (almost a quarter of a century!), I've never ridden in the back of a plane that my husband was flying. Most airline wives accompany their husbands on trips from time to time. After all, the price is right: the flight and hotel are free, so the only expenses are meals and entertainment. And the layovers are only a day or two long, so there isn't time to spend an exorbitant amount of money. As great as that sounds, I've never done it. He's been traveling to all these wonderful cities in Europe for many years, and I've never gone to any of them with him. My fear of flying played a big part in that, of course; but the other stumbling block was that I was incapable of taking a cross-Atlantic trip and leaving my boys behind at home. And they were always so busy with school and sports schedules that, unfortunately, we never made it over to Europe as a family, either. But with my nest all emptied out, what's stopping me now (aside from that pesky fear of flying bugaboo)?

My husband just got his schedule for next month, and there is a trip to Brussels that looks promising. It's a four-day trip, so we would have two whole days over there to sightsee and maybe have some nice meals--perhaps with some of those (yucky) sprouts for which that city is famous. Belgium is not a country that I've particularly yearned to see, but I do like their chocolates, and judging by the above picture, it's quite beautiful; so I think this is as good a destination as any for my maiden voyage overseas. I am going to be so proud sitting in the back (I hope in business class, but probably in coach!), knowing that my husband is at the controls. It's going to be hard for me to keep from bragging, saying to any fellow passenger who'll listen, "My husband is flying this plane!"

Wish me luck on this one. As the date of the Brussels trip approaches, I may lose all this new-found bravado. But hopefully, I'll go through with it. And if I do, I'll bring my laptop and blog from Belgium!

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