Traveling Man

December 19, 2015

Elliot has miles to go before he sleeps. He and his giraffe binky have ridden in a black minivan for nearly three hours. They have sat in traffic together along with his family, immobile for nearly an hour as helicopters circled overhead. Apparently, someone has been shot while driving on this highway that Elliot is now traveling on. Because of this, the highway has turned into a parking lot. But Elliot does not know about the near brush with danger, and at this point, neither do his parents. They will read about it on the Internet later that night. In the moment, Elliot is much more concerned about his poopy pants.

Elliot is taken out of his car seat at the airport. But only after his father unloads all six bags onto the luggage cart. His mother remembers to top off the baggage with Elliot’s car seat, and pushes the wheeled pack mule along. Elliot walks with his sister, Alice, reluctantly holding her hand. His dad drives away, off to park the car and sprint back to the ticket counter. Elliot is unaware of the challenges that his parents face. He is sad, because it is cold and he wants to run around independently through the darkness, strangers, and impatient drivers. His blue Converse All-Stars are saying let’s go, but his folks are saying no.

At the ticket counter, Elliot is playing on the cart. He sports a red and blue checked flannel. He is sad when his parents eventually separate his patriotic-colored arms from the object of his affection.

Elliot is quiet through security. Even when the TSA-agent makes him put his binky through the scanner, his brown eyes shed no tears.

Elliot arrives at his gate. His mother goes to change his pants, minus the wipes that were checked at the ticket counter. After his son’s less-fragrant return, Elliot’s father goes to hunt down a moca for his wife and trap a pretzel with cheese dip for himself.  Seeing they have a power play situation, Elliot and Alice decide to get wild, writhing on the floor and dancing with flailing limbs, respectively.

After a few wild minutes, Elliot is ready to board the plane. He repeatedly says thank you to the ticket agent as Alice hands over the tickets. He runs down the walkway, ready to navigate a sea of foreign legs, until his parents both yell at him to stop. To their surprise, Elliot complies.

On the plane, Elliot’s eyes dart around randomly. He asks a few questions. He requests a Fruit Leather. He slams his small body into the back of his seat, startling the passenger behind him. However, he is mostly quiet. He doesn’t cry during takeoff.

About 30 minutes in, Elliot grows uncomfortable in his seat. He requests his momma’s arms. She lovingly obliges.

It is over two hours past Elliot’s bedtime. He has not napped today. His father braces for a meltdown with fear and trembling.

Elliot remains calm. His eyes grow heavy. His mother turns him in towards her chest and he snuggles in. Soon his breathing is heavy. His jaw is slack. The eyelids drop down.

Elliot’s father looks carefully at his son. He looks at Elliot’s curled-in fingers. His pinkened cheeks. His dark sweaty curls. He remembers the nights and mornings when his boy fell asleep in his arms. He smiles as these memories seep back in.

Elliot slumbers deeply. He sleeps to the end of the flight and a little beyond. He has performed well. He has traveled many miles. He has traveled through time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to “Traveling Man”

  1. Sara Says:

    Aw, sniff sniff. Sweet moments to remember.

    Will you write a companion piece on Elliot’s “I wan go home”?

  2. teachiro Says:

    Elliot says, “I wan go home.” He repeats this approximately 47 times. Over his parents’ calm explanations. Over his parents’ attempted distractions. Over his parents’ increasingly strident replies. His parents wonder how they ended up on the Sloop John B.

    Thanks for sailing through the highs and lows with me!

  3. Mom Says:

    What.a trooper, Elliot!


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