Friday, September 9, 2011

Hurricanes on Multiple Fronts

I wasn't writing much because I was knee-deep in preparing for one of the most difficult things a mother like me can do: Getting my kids ready to leave home.  Michael had graduated from college, was accepted by the Peace Corps, and had an assignment in Nicaragua. Katie had been accepted to the New York Film Academy.  My little unschoolers were ready to go off to explore their dreams. Unfortunate for me that they couldn't do this a little closer to home, but...roots and wings, right?

Sue's Meticulous Plans
So my little house of cards was set up. After shopping and packing and prepping - and lots of tears from mommy - we had a plan! I'd take Katie to NYC on a Thursday, we'd stay together for a day or two, find the grocery stores nearby, practice on the subway, etc. She'd check in on Sunday, I'd fly out on Monday. I'd be home in time for some last minute time with Michael, who would fly out of Austin on Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. Short, fast, do-able.

Slight glitch. I had forgotten about Alyssa's first fashion show with Avenue Five. It was scheduled for Friday night. Luckily, Priceline was lovely and simply changed my departure date to Saturday morning. We'd all go together to the fashion show, along with family, friends, & Alyssa's boyfriend's family. We'd pack ahead of time and be ready to go out the next morning, 8 a.m. That would leave one day for Katie and I to figure it all out, but we could do it. Packing it in was our style anyway, right? Crisis averted.

And what is bad when you build a little house of cards? A breeze.
My breeze had a name:  Hurricane Irene.

 We had been watching the hurricane on the news, but it seemed so unlikely that it would hit NYC.  We looked at it as an adventure that Katie would be sharing with her roommates, and they'd always remember that they were the group that blew in with Hurricane Irene. It was starting to look a little ominous that I might not be able to get back on Monday, in time to see Michael off, but I *could* get Katie settled before the storm arrived. Michael had traveled before, so that's how I prioritized it. Still, I wasn't that thrilled with the idea of missing him.

As we were all dressed and walking out the door to the fashion show, Katie received a text from the dorm in New York: "Evacuating residents. Registration/Check In for Sunday is CANCELLED."

I could regale you idioms like "best laid plans of mice and men" or other such things. But my brain was on overload.  I picked up the phone and called the dorm, "Really?? I just spoke to someone there saying that the kids COULD check in, changed the flight, etc." They were really patient with me, because I must have sounded like a lunatic wanting to send my child INTO a  hurricane!  I was like a hurricane in reaction to a hurricane! We knew that the mayor had decided to shut down all public transportation. Our car service emailed saying that if you can get here, we will drive you anywhere that's available. But the dorm guy said, "Listen, it will be very unlikely that you'll even GET a flight to come into JFK tomorrow at all. But if you get her here, we'll take care of her. Everyone didn't evacuate. And it is the north end of Manhattan."

 So we stuck our head in the sand for a couple of hours.

We went to the Fashion Show, unsure of what our next 12 hours would look like. How does one predict the path of a hurricane anyway? The show was awesome. Alyssa did some great work on the models. We skipped going out for dessert afterwards, and just ate ice cream at home with the family, Grandma, and Josh.  Turning on the computer, we discovered that the dorm guy was right, all flights to JFK were cancelled.

Ron could see that I was dangling from the end of my rope. So he sat on the phone for hours, first  trying to reach Priceline, then trying to figure out the best flight to rebook.  I tried to cancel the pricey hotel I was going to stay in, but because I used a service to book it, they couldn't unbook it. I had visions of being charged anyway.  Suffice it to say I have no extra money laying around. I canceled the car service and rebooked it to the later date Ron was able to get.

The next morning, I could get the booking service for the hotel. They were working from their homes because they had all be evacuated. No charge, no problem. Whew.

So after all of this chaos and drama, everything worked out. Just like a hurricane - crazy wild when you're in the middle of it, then the next morning, the sun comes out, and if you're as lucky as we were, it looks like nothing ever had happened.

Michael's flight to D.C. wasn't canceled, and I was able to take him to the airport to go off on his adventure.  While I have received a couple of emails from him since then, his last text to me as he was boarding the plane from Miami to Nicaragua was, "Off I go, into the wild blue yonder..." Air Force people will know that line. Mothers do not like to hear that though.

Katie got to spend more time with her boyfriend. We left on Wednesday, and got her settled. We checked out a few grocery stores together, ate at some cute cafes, and then I came back the next day. She figured out everything else  on her own, no problem.
I, on the other hand, cried in the car all the way back to JFK airport. The driver kept looking at me in the mirror, but stayed silent. Probably for the best.

I love my kids. I love their sense of adventure. I KNOW where they get that! But sometimes I wish we could scale it down a bit. Don't some kids just move out into an apartment nearby? Would that have been too much to ask???

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know.


Pam in Colorado said...

Ah Momma, how bittersweet are times like these. The things your kids are going to be doing though, WOW!!!

Do you have any spectacular plans for your own life??

Sue said...

Thanks, Pam! They ARE doing great stuff, aren't they?

And, so nice of you to ask about me! It's the next step for all of us after this mommy-immersion some of us do with unschooling. But I haven't really figured out my new path yet. I have a few projects I'm working on though. I'm writing more, including a book, taking care of my aging mom, traveling around to visit my kids on their adventures. But I think I need to put some more thought into this. Thanks for the nudge!