Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

When Gravity Triples with Sick

“All the same we take our chances
Laughed at by time
Tricked by circumstances
Plus ca change
Plus c'est la meme chose
The more that things change
The more they stay the same…”

—Rush, Circumstances 

All I could do was stare at the estimated time of arrival on the little screen in front of me and will the minutes away. And it worked. Kind of. A few minutes would disappear, pulling the time up, and then a few minutes later the few minutes returned, pushing the time out again. It was like watching small waves lap at the beach in the same spot. For hours. Forever. Never really coming in or going out. A mosaic of sea change that never changes.

But it didn't take those last few hours on the plane to know I wasn't going to make it back in time. I kept adding on what would still have to transpire at the end of the journey, and it just wasn't going to add up in my favor. Yes, I'm a hoper and a doer, and although the hope hadn't fled, the doing this time was done and I was completely at the mercy of circumstance.

That morning the weather cooperated and all lights were green with the time of departure. Barely acclimated to Eastern Standard Time, the morning I left Toronto, Canada, I had to get up at 4 AM EST (that's 1:00 AM PST for those keeping score at home) for a 8:00 AM flight back to the Bay Area. Now, I planned it that way so I could get back to Santa Cruz by midday, if the flight was on time and traffic home from the airport was reasonable, the probability being high at that time of the day. Even if the flight was delayed a little bit for whatever reason, there was still plenty of margin to get me home, hug my family, and get Bea and me to our soccer team practice in time.

After checking in and getting through customs, I made sure to buy gifts for the girls. I don't do that every time, but this time I was still disappointed in the fact that I had forgotten to have them give me a stuffed animal stowaway before I left on my trip. I always have them pick one out for me, something small, and then take a few pictures with it on my trip wherever I go and post them on Facebook so they can see where daddy (and the stuffed animal) have been, and maybe other folks we've met during the trip, similar to the Flat Stanley idea.

But this time we all forgot. Gravity tripled with disappointment when I realized that after I left there was no stuffed animal in my backpack. Not quite the "I forgot our anniversary" feeling like Nicholas Cage in The Family Man, but still disappointing.

So I bought them each a little moose, took their picture together and posted: This week on YYZ reentry #BhivePower Stowaways.

An hour later, on the plane, buckled in, ready to go and -- then nothing. The plane sat on the tarmac near the gate for 30 minutes until finally the captain told us there was a maintenance issue and we had to head back to the gate to fix it. Both in English and French.

Two hours later they were still trying to fix it.

One hour later the captain told us they couldn't fix it and we've have to change planes.

One more hour later and then we boarded the new plane and finally taxied to the runway.

We took off and and I realized that there was no wifi available on the flight, and that would limit the work I could do. So I did what I could and then watched Captain America: Civil War and listened to This American Life. Otherwise, all I could really do in between was stare at the estimated time of arrival on the little screen in front of me and will the minutes away. But it made no never mind; the arrival time was wasn't changing and getting home in time went from hopeful to helpless. The math problem looked something like this:

Daddy leaves a Toronto hotel at 4:30 AM EST. His flight is delayed for nearly 4 hours due to a maintenance issue. Daddy is unhappy because he misses his family and doesn't want to miss coaching soccer practice later that day, but safety first. A new plane is towed in and the 5-hour flight home starts shortly thereafter. Based on an average air speed of 490 miles per hour, and then the added bonus of the airport drive home during commute with an average speed of 35-45 miles per hour, what time does Daddy actually get home PST?

Gravity tripled again and I felt sick. Not only was I not going to see my girls for another six to seven hours (by the time I got home), I was going to miss soccer practice. I was going to let them all down -- my girls and the entire team -- and that really, really sucked. The Mama had to change up her schedule to get Beatrice to practice, and one of the other team parents stepped up to coach practice, and I was very thankful for both.

Photo courtesy of Paul Turner
Let go and let Godot; the existential absurdity of it all hit rock bottom when I waited an additional painful 30 minutes for my suitcase at baggage claim. I know, I always say I hate being away from my family but love to travel -- first world problems and all that. I finally acquiesced to the fact that, no matter how long it took, I just needed to get home, safe and sound. That I would see my family soon. That I would also miss soccer practice, but would see my team at the game on Saturday. When gravity triples with sick you have to stand up straight and own it. I knew that all I had control over was my immediate actions and my reactions to this unfortunate circumstance, and although it didn't make me feel any better at the time, I just needed to get back intact.

And get back intact I did. Amen. 

Photo courtesy of Paul Turner

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