Call us neurotic, but when the kids were growing up and we travelled without them, we flew in separate planes. Yeah, I know. Statistically, we were at greater risk driving a car together. But in the car, I had the illusion of control. And car accidents just happen. In a plane, I’d have those long, horrible seconds before impact envisioning my children being raised by my Alaskan Uncle Ned and his four dobermans.
But with the boys grown and gone, we started flying together again and got reacquainted with our old travel habits. (1) She has to have an aisle seat. So do I. (2) She enjoys the airline menu. I live by a code that prohibits the consumption of airline food, street food and anything that’s pureed. (3) She likes to chat with the person next to her, and rent romantic comedies, and laugh uproariously. I travel in the Sam Bubble, ear plugs in, buried in a book. A lively chat about how much we annoy each other while airborne led to our decision to book seats across the aisle from each other, where we’d each be free to engage our favored travel habits. If we couldn’t book the desired aisle seats, well, we’d just fly separately again.
In many other ways we flew separately when we were raising young kids, each of us handling different aspects of parenting, one cleaning up the mess while the other put the baby down, one doing the bills while the other did the yard work, one being primary wage earner while the other was primary caregiver. So this new reality called “empty nest” has become not just a transition in parenting, but a transition in marriage, a time to get reacquainted with my spouse, learn to fly together again, and accept the fact that sometimes we’re going to end up in different parts of the plane.