Leaving on a Jet Plane

By: Shannon Ralph

It looks like I am going to be heading off on my first business trip here in a couple of weeks. My manager wants me to help tackle a rather large backlog in our New York office. Before you get incredibly excited for me, please note that it is Kingston, New York. Not New York, New York. Despite the less-than-stellar location, I admit that I was initially excited about a trip. Three or four days without kids. Three or four days of expense account meals. Three of four days with sole control of the television. Cable television. Three or four days of peaceful sleep in a king-sized bed with no children to interrupt my slumber. No dog to steal the covers. Three or four evenings spent with my nose stuck in my laptop with no comments from the peanut gallery about my internet addiction. Sounds an itsy bitsy bit sublimely blissful, huh?

But here’s the thing. It is not going to be three or four days. It is going to be closer to two weeks. Three or four days is blissful. Fourteen days is lonely. Cold and lonely. In Kingston, New York. As a matter of fact, those are the exact words my supervisor used when trying to talk me into taking the trip. Way to sell it, Sara.

My family’s reaction to my upcoming trip was strangely divided along genetic lines. Ruanita was visibly upset. It could be the fact that she is being left alone with three children to care for, however, I prefer to think that she was wracked with emotion because she would miss me dearly. She does not sleep well when she is alone in bed. She worries entirely too much. I have no doubt that she will spend every moment of my two-week absence obsessing over the ways in which I will meet my untimely demise hundreds of miles away from her. She made me promise that I would not go into the city alone (NYC is 90 miles south of Kingston). Have I mentioned that we haven’t spent a night apart since she was pregnant with Lucas?

Speaking of my soon-to-be nine-year-old son, when he overheard Ruanita and me talking about my trip, he began to cry. Rather hysterically. He wailed, actually. Out of the blue. “You’re leaving, Momma? Are you coming back?” Of course, I assured him, I would only be away a short time. But that did not assuage his tears. He blubbered for quite some time about how he loved me and would miss me while I was gone. It was equal parts incredibly touching and sadly pitiful.

Sophie and Nicholas —the lucky children who possess my genetic material—simply stared at me blankly. There were no tears. There were no declarations of love. There was no need for hugs and kisses and reassurances. There was, however, palpable disdain directed at their whimpering elder brother. Otherwise, they were completely dispassionate and disinterested. They only perked up and showed the tiniest iota of feeling when I promised Lucas that I would bring back presents from my trip.

It feels good to be so loved.

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S Ralph

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