Homeward Bound

This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series Cruising with Teens

At 7:15 a.m., I called the boys’ room. “Inspection in 15 minutes. Get up.” I couldn’t even tell who was on the other end of the line. Grogginess disguised the voice.

At the appointed time, I knocked on the door and Wells answered. He stepped back to let me in, and I was unpleasantly surprised by what I saw.

“You were supposed to leave your suitcases out for the cabin attendant last night,” I said.

“We did,” answered Wells.

“Yeah, but you were supposed to pack your stuff into them first,” I said. To my eye, it looked like everything was still in the room, strewn about with abandon. “How are you going to fit all this into your carry-ons?”

Wells gave me a look that he must have learned from his mother. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Where are the tuxes?” I asked.

“In the closet,” Dan answered.

That was a shock. Who would ever think to put clothing in the closet? I opened the closet door – they were in there all right, bunched up on the floor.

“Pack these up in the bags they came in,” I directed. “When you’re ready, bring everything to our room. Then we’ll go to breakfast.” I went back to 6108.

About twenty minutes later, Wells and Dan arrived. Somehow, they had managed to stuff everything into their carryon bags. I hoped the bags would hold until we got home – they appeared ready to burst.

“I couldn’t find one of the tux shirts,” said Wells. “One of us must have packed it by accident.”

“Well, there’s nothing we can do about it now,” I said. “Did you leave the room in decent shape?” Rather than rely on their assessments, I made a quick run to the cabin for a final check. It was fine. I wouldn’t find the missing shirt either.

We marched up to the Ocean Café for breakfast, carrying our trays out on the rear deck. As soon as we sat down, our tag color was announced for disembarkation.

Kris stood up. “OK, we have to go now.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” I said. “Relax and have a nice breakfast. If we hurry, we’ll end up sitting in the airport for half the day. I’d rather be just about anywhere else.”

Kris managed to relax, and we stretched breakfast out for nearly an hour. The boys needed all the food and coffee they could get to recharge their depleted batteries.

Except for the occasional PA announcement, the ship was eerily quiet. We went back to the cabin to retrieve our baggage, took the elevator to the foyer and walked off the ship without seeing more than a couple of other people. In the terminal, we handed over our customs declarations without even breaking stride. Our baggage was all within a ten-foot radius.

Outside, we were directed to a covered waiting area. A bus bound for Miami airport was just pulling out, and we were second in line for the next one – at least we were at first. People slowly trickled in to the area, and rather than lining up behind us, they began forming their own lines in parallel to the original one.

“I’m cold,” said Kris. The waiting area was shady and cool, which felt very comfortable to me.

“Get used to it,” I said.

Kris, Wells and Dan decided to adopt a sunny patch of lawn nearby, probably to store up some warmth for use when we got home to winter. I drew guard duty, and watched over the pile of suitcases.

It was a long wait before an empty bus pulled up. I was curious about how the unusual queue would work, but not surprised when people just randomly squeezed in from all sides in an attempt to get a seat. Kris and the boys weren’t paying attention, and were caught off guard by arrival of the bus. They had to bisect the mob to rejoin me.

When we got to the door of the bus, we were told to wait while the driver went to count empty seats. Just then a large family rounded the corner, and the father launched into a loud rant about how he and his family weren’t about to wait behind all these people to board a bus. He demanded to be transported immediately. I felt embarrassed by his behavior, but his wife and children just stood by, looking bored. Their normal routine, I guessed, but it didn’t get his family onto this bus. We were the last to board.

Despite our efforts to be slow, we still ended up with a wait of more than three hours at Miami airport. When we went to the security gate, we were confronted with a huge mob of people. Hundreds were waiting to get through the half dozen open gates, and for a while we actually worried that we wouldn’t make the plane in spite of our early arrival.

We flew to Philadelphia and hung around there for a while before boarding a plane for the leg to Boston. The plane used for this trip struck me as unusual. It held no more than thirty people in comfy leather seats, and felt like a sports car compared to a standard jet. That impression was reinforced by the way the pilot handled the craft before take off, accelerating and braking vigorously between sharp corners.

The flight was uneventful until we descended into Logan airport in Boston. We came in over the harbor, the skyline crisp in the port windows and the blackness of water below. The wheels touched down for an instant and then we were suddenly airborne again, accelerating under full power. Lights filled the windows on the starboard side as we banked sharply and gained some altitude.

“What is he doing?” Kris asked, visibly nervous. She wasn’t the only one asking that question or looking that way. Even the boys looked concerned.

It was only by the grace of my prescribed ‘flying pills’ that I could calmly answer, “He’s going around — must have been going too fast.” The pilot maintained the circular course until we landed uneventfully a couple of minutes later.

Luggage retrieved, we stepped out of the terminal to find the airport van. It was painfully cold, and snow had fallen more than once during our absence. Everything was dirty and slippery.

An hour later, the van pulled into our driveway. Dan loaded his belongings into the back of his pickup truck, on top of the snow. “Thanks a lot, Mr. and Mrs. X. That was awesome. See you in school tomorrow, Wells.”

And that was it – another adventure completed.

Welcome home…


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