My college sons have unwittingly alerted me to something about travel I never fully realized. They’ve been on the go lately, and I have learned there’s a bright side to driving them to the airport way before sunrise.
On an average of two the three times per year, the pre-trip dialogue goes like this:
“I’ll take you to the airport! What time is your flight?”
“Which six? The a.m. one or the p.m. one?”
The answer is always, “The a.m. one.”
This may come as a surprise, but I was actually thankful for the 6 a.m.’er we endured just last week. Truly odd, considering a “sixer” requires a 5:30 boarding, so one must show up at the relatively laid back Kansas City airport no later than 4:30. And that’s cutting it close if the eventual destination is an international one. (Arriving an hour ahead is the earliest I can convince the cavalier men in my life to show up. It’s my personal clock-watching/angst/fatigue lasagna.)
So why on earth would I be thankful our youngest booked a horrible pre-dawn flight? Easy answer. The harshness of the hour made me and my husband (accomplice for all international airport runs) dazed enough to be chill about launching our son to his current adventure. He was on his way to study abroad for five full months. An early-early flight for south-South America.
As we stumbled into one of the un-mothballed terminals to see him off, the sun was still elsewhere and not showing up any time soon. We were too groggy to fully grasp the concept that our kid was taking 49.99 pounds of his belongings to a place where toilets flush in the opposite direction, and where winter is summer and summer is winter. In other words, far away.
After we hugged Lanky Boy and waved to him as he was swallowed by the security entrance, we trudged back to the car with plans to find coffee and scones somewhere. We remained dazed, but it was a good thing.
It was that moment in the half-empty short-term parking lot I realized there’s a valid reason to be grateful for our controversial “outdated” airport.
Sure, it has “International” in its name, because I suppose there’s an occasional flight to Toronto. Maybe. But the reality is if you’re going to another country from here, you’re getting up horribly early to connect elsewhere. If Kansas City boasted a whippy airport, like a Mall of America spoked with a gazillion jetways, then many nonstop international flights would originate here. And our son would have needed an evening drop-off instead. We would have been alert!
Who wants to be clear-eyed and fully functional when your child is literally gliding around a dramatic curvature of the globe and landing in another season? Nobody, that’s who. We were so tired that morning we were the coolest of cucumbers.
See you in July, kid. And thank you, barely international KCI, for the inadvertent Novocain.
Which somehow brings to mind this anecdote: Last fall I was waiting at KCI to catch a domestic flight. A woman from Springfield, Illinois was sitting next to me. She asked if there was a place to eat. I was flustered and gulped, “Welp, there’s that yogurt parfait kiosk thing over there.” The woman looked disappointed. She said to me, and these were her exact words because I immediately added them to my phone notes, “We have a cracker box airport, too.”
I couldn’t help but feel insulted. How dare she throw shade on the place of sparkly midnight blue Terrazzo floors punctuated with random mosaics? And after this new epiphany about the advantage of sleepy drop-offs, I’m now super-insulted.
Here’s to silver linings, and to the day five months from now we park mere yards away from baggage claim to pick up our son.
Reach Denise at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @DeniseSnodell