Sunday, April 6, 2014

Orange Soda

“Um, how much is it?” my face down-turned, eyes looking up from the seat I was stuffed into, tummy flipping about beneath the ill-fitting and slightly stained shirt that stretched across my awkwardly changing frame. “I’m sorry doll, I can’t hear you, what did you say?” the heavily sprayed, willowy flight attendant now bending down closer to my face, her perfume filling my nostrils as I once again asked, in response to her, “Would you like a soda?” with, “How much is it?” this time just a little louder.

It was my first time on an airplane. I was terrified but in that way where you can’t quite tell if it feels horrible or wonderful. The idea of vacation as foreign as another language to me. Vacation in my world meant an extra paycheck for Mom, which meant the brakes would stop making that horrific scraping sound, or we would have a week or two off from the endless calls from bill collectors. A vacation from our “situation” was something I knew but a vacation as in locking up your apartment, sleeping in a hotel or getting on an airplane? Well that was never a topic of consideration as it wasn’t ever really a possibility. Travel was a thing my mother did before she had kids. Yet another thing we robbed her of, a story of long ago and not something I knew how to feel about, I mean other than guilty. 

“Oh sweetheart, that’s precious” the flight attendant resting her warm hand upon my shoulder as I held open the envelope I was handed by my mother before I boarded. The paper wallet containing the sixty-five dollars that was, in my mind, going to keep me fed and housed for the next two weeks. A bent finger brushed beneath my chin and a sweet whisper in my ear, “They’re free honey” and I was sitting back in my seat, plastic cup full of ice and orange soda on my tray, nervous heart screaming about under my shirt as our plane split through the sky taking me to a whole other state and to visit my mother’s sister and the cousin I didn’t really know. In some strange version of my reality, this trip was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me. Forget that I’d run barefoot through the blazing hot sand of summer on Mexican beaches and lost a parent, no this big metal tube sailing through the air and the exotic Colorado my destination, this was as big a deal as there was. My first vacation was spent with total strangers and for the weird little blonde girl that felt alone in most situations, it was perfect. 

The next summer would find me once again on a fancy flight to far off Colorado, the relatives a touch more familiar but no closer to knowing, or caring to know me, not that I was aching for them to or honestly, all that interested in knowing them. Their mountain top life almost storybook like to me and their….protection, of their own business and feelings keeping me from having even an inkling of what their lives were really like. It was that kind of familial distance that screamed kinfolk to me, which is why even now that word “Family” holds with it an arms-length connotation. Two summers on a plane, the second time having the shoulders-back confidence to order my orange soda knowing it was free. A little more life and information behind me and when the third summer came round and my mother spoke to me while stroking the incredibly soft locks of my sweet baby sister as she let me know that my days on flying metal tubes were over because she needed me to stay home and help watch the baby, the zipping up of luggage, of baggage that would pluck me down from the clouds of far away and remind me, vacations are brief escapes from our situation, nothing more.


Some years later I would meet a man. One that was raised on another planet than I. One that was treated to plane rides, walks on the beach that didn’t come with the churning tummy of fear and loneliness that I had known, but came with another set of situational vacations that sent him running into the arms of beckoning trouble and danger….but his came with a strong set of maternal arms that dug him out and eventually set him on the path that led to me. This man at 21 years old would wrap his awkward arms around a tiny biracial boy, buy him the BIG water guns, pepper his brown face with kisses and let Jeremy call him “Dad” way before I was ready to even commit to being a couple. A man that would leave me frustrated and dumbfounded that he couldn’t feel my feet dug in, hear my “Leave me alone!” screaming and silently, stealthily just showed up over and over again. This man came to us with a routine and desire to see new things, take a break from our situation and he taught both Jeremy and I to seek the new. No matter how scraping the brakes no matter how late the credit card payment….we learned through his patient touch that we needed, needed and deserved that break and would grow as people by just handing over the paper wallet and buckling in for the ride. 

“Would you like a glass of Champagne before takeoff?” a question I will be hearing in just a few hours. I’m boarding a plane and headed to Europe for the 8th time in 11 years. I’ll fly over states that my real family and I have traversed and investigated, the most of the United States checked off my internal growth chart, the world now feeling like it is in the soft warm center of my palm, the knife of my desire and curiosity slipped beneath its shell, my wrist ready to twist….my palate wide open and prepared for the next bite.

“I’ll have an orange soda”

See you on the other side…





Nuits Saint Georges


Here I come, paper wallet wide open, take what you need. 


Romes said...

Have a great time Samantha! Wonderful post that really brings home the travel bug for me.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thanks Jess! I am packed and about to apply a layer of face goo that will be stuck on me when I land in Paris for dinner. How fucking cool is that right there? I can piss and moan, have baby hissy fits about this and that but at the end of the day, I've been asked to join an importer and help her pick new wines to share with the West Coast....lets make that a large orange soda. Cheers lady.

Katie said...

Beautiful! Safe travels and great times. Bonne vacances et bon voyage.

Marcia Macomber said...

Wonderful post! Have fun! Bonne chance!

webb said...

Safe and joyful travels, Sam! Can't wait to hear what you discover.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thanks Everyone! Just a little after 3:00 AM here in the Loire and we just got to our hotel after the long flight, a quick dinner in Paris and then the 3 hour flight to Angers...dragging and so in need of a long hot bath of which there is not one. Probably better to not wake the other guests in this very quiet hotel...feeling guilty for the tap-tap-tap of my nails on this keyboard. Going to try and get some sleep but fear my nervous excitement might not allow it...really wishing I'd packed a bottle of Irish Whiskey in my bag for just this occasion.

Thanks for checking in ladies. Nice to know you are here with me in spirit. xoxoxox

pvtrailrunner said...

What a beautiful post! Glad that you made it safely across. Looking forward to the new wines sharing on the West Coast--can't wait to try 'em!

Samantha Dugan said...

Can't wait to get back, (well I can wait a little) and share them with everyone! Thanks for reading, and liking! xoxoxox