We leave the house on time to get to the airport this morning. A first for us in quite a while. We didn’t have diaper bags to pack, milk bottles to fill, or a sleeping baby to manhandle into her car seat. It felt strange kissing her goodbye as we got into the car with exactly two carry-ons that were relatively organized. Since Kavya was born, this is the only trip we’ve ever taken without her. But she’s in good hands: Sona’s mum and dad graciously offered to watch Kavya, or as Sona’s dad put it “hang out” while me and Sona celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary in New Orleans. It seems like we’ve known each other forever and I don’t remember a time I didn’t know Sona. And although Kavya has only existed for a little over 2 years, I don’t remember a time before her either.
Back in November, Sona had bought the tickets, and through living social had booked the hotel, including tons of vouchers for a Jazz club, and restaurants. It had originally intended to be a surprise trip for me, but she spilled the beans a few months ago (neither of us are good at keeping secrets). The original intent was so I could help research and plan the trip, but aside from our family vacation to Hawaii, we’ve never really been very good at researching trips. The most we did was watch an episode of Anthony Bourdain on New Orleans and buy a Lonely Planet the night before.
5:43am is our standard to catch a flight, and Sona’s dad is a good sport, always picking us up or dropping us off at inopportune times. We whizz past the Exxon station on the 1 and 9. I look back and see Sona passed out next to the empty car seat with one of Kavya’s toys squashed in a corner. Sona’s dad is driving like we’ve just robbed a bank: swerving into lanes, only to come to an abrupt halt at the lights, and then continuing until the next light. We catch a glorious sunrise – blood orange like the sunrises in India or what I imagine a sunrise in Africa to look like. But the moment passes and it’s no longer romanticiszed. The light is hitting us in the face, and it has ducked behind yellow font, Daffys: “High Fashion. Low Prices.” We speed and once again come to a grinding halt. This time, as we sit in mild traffic, me and Sona’s dad have a conversation we’ve been having for years. And it’s always highly entertaining.
He complains about how there is no coordination with the traffic lights (a fact I agree with – you sit at a light for five minutes, then when it turns green, you inch a few yards to the next light, which is inevitably red. We timed it once. 7 minutes.). “I don’t know what they are doing,” he says, looking straight ahead. “This is on. This is off,” he continues, not bothering to reference the pronouns, or even gesture at the traffic lights. He knows I know what he’s talking about.
As we near the airport, he is no longer in sleep mode, or in homicidal driver mode. And he asks why we’re going to New Orleans. He has trouble keeping track of work related business and entertainment. “To write,” I tell him, which is ideally true. Both Sona and I have been neglecting our writing. Yes, again. And we thought what better way to jump start our writing than by going to Bourbon Street? Yep. Sona’s dad didn’t buy it either, and let out a laugh in response.
We take the exit to the airport. To the left of us is a massive Budweiser factor that always reminds me of the nuclear power plant Homer Simpson works for, complete with the puff of billowing smoke constantly wafting in the air. He laughs when I tell him i plan to do writing in New Orleans (I think he’s seen Cops), and an even bigger laugh when i tell him about the drama workshop I received a scholarship for at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. “Cape Cod,” he simplifies. “There is a nice beach there.”
We get out of the car. I reflexively get all the bags out of the trunk, assuming Sona has to unbuckle Kavya from the car seat and organize the “Elmo bag.” Yes, that is the name of it. What else are you going to call a bag with a massive Elmo face drawn on both sides of it?
After saying our goodbyes, we print out our boarding passes and walk over to where the escalator usually is, to take us down to the security line. The escalator is there, but doesn’t work. I lift my bag up like a sane person. What does that wife of mine do? She slams the rolling bag on every step like it’s the most normal thing for someone to do. Like she doesn’t notice we’re not on flat ground anymore. As we wait in the security line, Sona flaps her arms and says, “I feel so light!” We both immediately realize we are in for it big time when we go to California in a month with Kavya.
Stay tuned for the next blog post when we actually LAND in New Orleans!