Traffic at the airport. Airplane is taxiing to the runway.

By Malkie Gordon Hirsch

I’m a terrible traveler and I’ve always been a master procrastinator.

And for those of you who are adept at the organizational requirements of travel, just know that the combination of my two habits is not ideal.

As I stood in JFK yesterday (which seems like a week ago due to the time change), I noticed a woman crouching down near the luggage scale to transfer some of her heavier items into lighter bags.

I spied the horrified look on Jeremy’s face when he noticed that inside her suitcase, instead of the neatly-labeled packing cubes, was a haphazard amalgam of random shoes and shirts floating around with no rhyme or reason.

And in that moment, I never felt so validated. Because that woman is who I used to be.

Let’s be real, I’m still her on some level, but I’m married to the type of guy who actually thought to purchase neon yellow suitcase handles so we could spot our black and navy suitcases right away, and avoid using masking tape on a duffel bag for some much-needed adult arts and crafts.

A part of me still misses the mess when I employed the “dump all your belongings and sit on it” method of packing.

But alas, I can now locate pairs of shoes instantly since they’re packed in shoe bags.

That’s right, I said shoe bags.

I’m that person now.

Don’t even recognize myself anymore.

Yet, once again, I find myself in a large tubular metal can that somehow remains airborne for several hours as it zigzags across the world as I try distracting myself by making believe I’m not stuck in an airplane seat for the next ten hours.

I take turns pretending to understand what’s happening in the movie on my screen, but if it’s playing while there’s turbulence, all bets are off.

I also don’t sleep on an airplane because I alone inhabit the superpower that keeps the plane midair.

I know.

You’re welcome.

When I was married to my late husband, he too had no interest in traveling much, and as our family grew, trips to even local destinations proved to be too difficult, so for many years we didn’t go away.

For years, I convinced myself that if we went away with the kids, it would be an elaborate production of itinerary planning, packing an entire life x7 (if you’re an over-packer like moi), and spending the kind of money that would break me out in hives.

If we ventured out somewhere by ourselves, there was the invariable issue of having someone take our place for the few days we were gone—the intricate choreography of managing each child’s schedule, the endless carpools that would surely fall out during the time you’re away, and let’s not forget the food.

The snacks the kids craved would not be replenished and the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you knew they loved would now be on hiatus until we got back.

The homework help, the catching up on their day, the goings on in their lives, and the general mommying that has become my main gig and something I truly cherish.

The inability to greet them if only for a few days proved to be too much of an obstacle to overcome, so I never went.

That is, until now.

Enter Jeremy, who didn’t know me during those years spent in the trenches of parenting. Who didn’t know someone like me, who could never take a honeymoon or an overnight trip to Manhattan and who avoided a big trip like Israel for 24 years, to the point of not realizing what I was missing.

At this point, I’ve been away a few times without the kids, but usually in the summer when there’s no set schedule.

I still find myself concocting every imaginable scenario that could happen with me halfway around the world and I find myself sobbing in the car before leaving as I run around finishing errands, trying to guess all that needs to be taken care of in my absence.

It’s an impossible task and I know that instead, I should let go of the strong hold I’ve had over my life and my children’s lives.

That maybe, with me being gone for a few days, we’ll both discover something new about ourselves that we need to know.

For me, spending time with family members that I never had the chance to before is an essential part of this trip.

Taking a brief step out of my life and into the lives of others I knew mainly via my smartphone is a way of investing in theirs, and I hope it’s the start of many new experiences to come.

It’s a way to thank Jeremy for leaving the life he always knew and taking a chance on us, moving into a new neighborhood with a community he didn’t know and changing our lives for the better.

For years, he’s been the father my kids didn’t have and needed.

And now I get to do the same, and as I write this during what should be my hours of sleep, I know that although it took some convincing on his part to get here, and although it took me having to pack a lifetime of stuff and completely wreck any semblance of a sleep schedule, some trips are worth it.


Malkie Gordon Hirsch is a native of the Five Towns community, a mom of 5, a writer, and a social media influencer.


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