My daughter’s flying to France tonight. In a few hours actually. Yup, out of NYC to France. And, the best part is she comes back on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving into customs at JFK (did I mention that she’s coming from FRANCE?)…Before you ask all those important questions like, Why? Is it necessary? Can’t she reschedule and go to like Cincinnati instead, let me just be the first to say, “asked and answered.”
So, my daughter’s flying to France TONIGHT…alone. As a parent, every part of me wants to stop her. Sort of…First of all, I can’t. She’s twenty-four years old and on her own. At some point, through no fault of my own, I lost control of these decisions. It’s sooooo hard to let go. Secondly, we can not change our lives, change our plans or act out of fear when these events happen. What happened in Paris this week and all over other parts of the world seemingly every week is unacceptable. But as Americans, as a free people, we have to carry on. We have to live our lives as planned or they win. I know it, but I don’t like it. Especially not tonight.
I knew, though, that it was pointless to get her to change her mind about this trip, because I wouldn’t have either. But I also know I never would’ve traveled by myself at her age like this. When I was twenty-four years old, I was married and pregnant. Even today, at age 52, I don’t think I would go alone and I know I would’ve needed to pre-pack, lay out all my outfits, purchase tickets online for museums, made hotel reservations months in advance and had all of my tours or day’s plans scheduled. She’s not even checking luggage. I don’t know how, but for a business/travel trip lasting 7 nights, she is bringing a backpack. And I don’t mean a big hiking one. I mean the school size backpack. I think it’s great that she’s this independent and capable, but she’s killing me….seriously. And this is not her first rodeo. She’s done this before. I really enjoyed when she sent me the video of her paragliding in Interlaken on Mother’s Day. At least she sent the picture when it was over with a caption, “I’m alive, happy Mother’s Day.” OMG…
So when she told me about this trip and that she was going to France for work but would leave two days earlier than her colleagues “to travel around,” that picture in Interlaken came crashing back into my consciousness. “Great,” I thought. When I asked her what she planned to see or where she was going to stay before work began, she said, “I dunno. I’ll figure it out when I get there. I hear it’s fun to stay in monasteries or maybe I’ll find a convent.” Here’s where I so hoped to interject, “When you call the convent can you ask for rates for like the next 2-4 years?”
Ultimately, she is doing what I always taught her to do; she’s not letting something or someone like these psychopathic killers stand in the way of her plans. For that I’m proud of her. But my daughter’s getting on a plane alone for France tonight. People who know me well will find it strange that I am even the slightest bit worried because I’m always the one who says, “You do realize it’s far more likely to killed in a car accident on the way to work than getting killed by a terrorist or in a plane crash.” I know it in my head, but this time, it doesn’t make it much easier.
So tonight while I’m up staring at the TV waiting for my own armageddon, she will no doubt be binge watching “The Walking Dead” slugging down her second Beefeater and tonic relaxing as she zips over the Atlantic on her way to fun, fun, fun in France. Maybe if I’m lucky, it’ll be a “Bridesmaids” moment and she’ll be seated next to the air marshall. Or maybe the whole thing will be worthwhile because she’ll be seated next to Jean-Paul, the 26 year-old French student who is on his way home from Harvard Business School to visit his family. Yeah, that’s it. That’s what I’ll imagine.
I’ll rejoice and take a momentary respite when, God willing, bleary- eyed and down three pounds from sitting on the toilet all night, I get the text at 5:00 am that says, “Here.” (And, trust me, that’ll be it. She won’t tell me about the flight, describe Jean-Paul, or the air marshall.) Then, relief pouring over me because hallelujah, she’s there, I’ll text back, “Yay! So what have you decided to do? Where will you stay?” And here is where the respite ends…Her response will undoubtedly be: “Not sure yet, but I’ll be fine.”
So did I tell you my daughter’s getting on a plane for France tonight???? I may as well just start drinking now…