About a week ago…
“Oh my god, Mom, I just found out that George Watsky is going to be in Atlanta!”
“Oh, really, for what?” I asked, only semi listening to her. I was in the throes of binge watching Gossip Girl and Blair was just about to tell Chuck she loved him. Okay, I know, it’s like I’m 12, don’t judge.
“I told you. He has a book coming out, How to Ruin Everything.”
See, I was only half listening. I missed that little tidbit entirely. George Watsky, from what she has told me, is a spoken word poet and rapper. He has a very large YouTube following and, obviously, is now an author.
“Okay, well, that is too far to drive. I can barely drive the two hours to Orlando, let alone six hours to Atlanta.”
Wait for it…
“But Mom…you don’t understand.”
I never do.
She continued, “I have to see him. Meeting him is on my Bucket List and he might not be this close again!” she pleaded.
My 14 year old has a Bucket List. Interesting.
“Okay, let me finish this episode and give it some thought” I replied, waiting for her usual rebuttal of stomping off and shouting “never mind” in an attempt to guilt me for choosing Blair and Chuck over her wants and needs.
Instead she just replied, “Okay, thanks Mom. I will see what other details I can find out.”
The girl knows I like details.
With a smile, she spun around, her long ponytail mimicking a pendulum, and ran up the steps to her room, no doubt to Google the specifics.
Her entire reaction prompted me to hit the pause button on Netflix and in my mind ask myself, what just happened? Her response to me staving off her inquiry was surprising and caused me to reflect and quite honestly, be ashamed of myself. I expected her reaction to be bratty and sarcastic but she was actually respectful. A glance out the window gave me no indication that Hell had indeed frozen over or that pigs had acquired the ability to fly, which means…dare say it…my baby girl is growing up.
As someone who also has a Bucket List, I could appreciate the fact that she not only has a list, but that it included meeting someone famous (Meeting Ellen DeGeneres is on my list) so I decided to investigate making the trip happen and then the strangest thing occurred, I remembered what else was on my Bucket List: Taking a spur of the moment trip with Christina! This recollection sealed the deal and my commitment to turning this into a reality was born.
First question, getting there. This actually was easy. We still had two Airline Vouchers that were going to expire July 1st so I called, and sure enough, they covered the cost for a three day trip to Atlanta. I wasn’t kidding when I said I do not tolerate long car rides.
After she supplied with me with the date of the book signing, I called a hotel, made arrangements for transportation then tweeted directly to George Watsky. I informed him that I was surprising my daughter, one of his biggest fans, with a trip to Atlanta to meet him and guess what? He tweeted back and when she got the notification on her phone I heard her scream, fly down the stairs to my office and shout “Thank you Mom!” She was astonished, definitely surprised but something I hadn’t expected, she was grateful. A trait not grossly notable in most teens. I was in awe.
Fast forward to the following week, with all of the arrangements in place we headed to the airport very early on the day of the book signing. Very early, for us anyway, is 7:00 AM.
After a delayed flight out (three hours on the tarmac and a plane change due to a mechanical) we landed in Atlanta with zero time to check into our hotel and headed directly to the Barnes and Noble for the book signing where Christina would finally meet, in person, George Watsky.
The place was notably busy as we pressed into the store, luggage in tow, which was slightly embarrassing but hey, at this point we were just happy we made it on time.
The reading was better than I could have imagined. Mr. Watsky is intriguing, his voice mesmerizing and he chose his readings with care and read them with the fluidity of a true poet. I was more than impressed.
After the reading, Christina graciously waited in line for her turn, was somewhat shy when it was finally her turn, had her book signed and talked to him a little bit about dedicating his book to all librarians. Her excitement of the moment made the days travel woes evaporate. Once at the hotel, we changed, ate the best Macaroni & Cheese ever made on this planet via room service and fell asleep watching a movie.
Day two was a whirlwind. We did our best to see and experience everything due to an early flight out the following morning. We visited The Atlanta Aquarium, The Coca Cola Museum and thanks to our Concierge at the hotel, received Club Level tickets to an Atlanta Braves game.
While crossing off things from our bucket list felt amazing, something even grander happened on our very last day. A moment, a memory, an unforgettable transformation.
We arrived at the airport promptly at 8:30 AM, the suggested two-hours before our flight, and headed to check in. Christina qualifies for TSA Pre-Check, which we are used to and we expected the process this time to be no different. We would separate for possibly five to ten minutes and then meet up just outside of security. This doesn’t rattle me, every other time we have done it I have had her in view from my own line, but not this time. This time was different.
Entry to her pre-check gate was located nowhere near mine, in fact, it was about 100 feet away, down a long corridor and this realization threw me into panic mode, but did it alarm my daughter? Oh no, it delighted her I believe. She just broke away from me and began starting down the walkway, leaving me pleading “Wait, Christina, no wait, but…hold on… stop, where will you be…”
Her reaction–she just turned, smiled, gave me a thumbs up and yelled back at me as the distance between us grew farther, “Mom, you got this” and then she just disappeared. Literally. The airport swallowed her whole. I waved anyway, but she was gone, already in the belly of the beast.
I was left standing there, frozen. It was the line attendant’s voice that snapped me back, “Ma’am, regular check in is down that way, about a hundred feet” she said, but as I turned, stomach in a knot, heart squeezing, it looked more like a thousand feet. As I slumped off to my security gate, dragging my now unbearably heavy luggage, tears began to form. My attempt to keep them at bay failed.
Behind me was a woman who obviously witnessed me self-destruct at Christina’s gate. She was holding an infant, her face sympathetic. ‘How old is your daughter? She asked. ‘She’s only fourteen’ I whispered back. Her young and freckled face broke into a wide grin and she simply stated ‘Then right now she is having the time of her life doing that on her own. Don’t worry, this is my airport, I am here all the time, she’ll be fine.’ But she was wrong.
Things went from bad to worse, for me anyway. As I approached the entrance, there was a large sign stating that the projected wait time to get through security was 45 minutes! FORTY FIVE MINUTES!! Are you kidding me? In 45 minutes my daughter could be pulled into a bathroom, drugged, raped, kidnapped, and sold on the black market….my mind was exploding with all the possibilities. I turned back to my new friend in search of comfort but she split off into another lane for those needing “special assistance” which I felt I most certainly qualified for, but in fear of losing my place in line, I kept my feet planted, white knuckled my luggage and pulled out my phone.
Call her. I have to call her, I thought. Too much for a text. Too important for a text. She must be freaking out, poor thing.
“Christina, its Mom.”
“No kidding. What’s up pal?”
“What’s up? Oh I will tell you what’s up? Things are bad, real bad. I have a forty-five minute wait through my line! Where are you?”
“I am through my line already, waiting for you.”
“Okay, sit tight. Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t go to the bathroom. DO NOT leave that spot. I will come and find you as soon as I get through.”
“Mom, its fine. I will just hop on the tram and meet you at the gate. It’s D23.”
“Oh no, that is a horrible plan, we need another plan”
“I will text you when I get there. The tram is right by me. I will see you there.”
Beep. Call ended.
Tears, they’re back, but so is my daughter’s voice. Unlike mine, it held the tone of assurance.
Then, like a brick to the head, it hits me. My daughter and I have completely reversed roles, right in the Atlanta Airport. Flashbacks from the movie Freaky Friday flood my thoughts and I remember her last words to me as she disappeared down that endless corridor, “Mom, you got this.”
It’s true, I am not going to get a coffee mug exclaiming I am mother of the year. I really should have “gotten this”, but I didn’t and that’s okay. Sure, I fell apart, freaked out, nearly went into a coma but she didn’t, which to me, is pretty damn amazing. My daughter, my friend, my travel companion and most definitely my inspiration, is growing up and I realize at that moment that I did do at least one thing right. I helped her become that person who spirits away, down long corridors and hops on trams. Me, Joanne Spencer.
My tears of worry have turned to tears of pride, joy, and most of all relief. I can do this. I can trust her to get to the gate, to do and especially NOT do, all of things I have taught her.
My phone buzzes. It’s a text from Christina, “At gate.”
With my chin lifted, I press on. Starting and stopping in an endless line through security and worry has left me. I send her a simple text that reads, “Okay Beans, see you soon” and forty minutes later I do. She is sitting and smiling. Proud of herself, and probably me, for surviving without her. A little girl is chatting her up as I grow closer, asking her for gum which my daughter readily hands her. Relieved, I plop down beside her.
“Hey, good job, I knew you could you do it,” I say.
“I knew you could too” she says and we both laugh.
She did it. I did it. I survived the moment my little girl became a young woman. A shift has occurred in our relationship, I can feel it. It warms me.
Traveling home was better than our way there but we were still met with delays and didn’t get back home until about 6:00 PM. Three hours later than planned, so needless to say I am quite content to be in bed early tonight. Bonus: I work tomorrow. Wine? Yes, Please!
Despite the delays, the trip was everything I had hoped for and more. Christina is an amazing human being. Confident, spirited, funny, and most of all, more grown up than I had realized. I may have left home with my little girl three days ago, but I came home with a young woman.
The trip and our adventures are what I call “journal worthy”. Reaching into my nightstand I pull out my notebook and, after searching past Kleenex, dental floss and an empty bottle of Tums, my pen.
June 24, 2016
One more item crossed off my bucket list today: Take a spur of the moment trip with Christina and I have one person to thank for helping me accomplish this, George Watsky. So thank you, George Watsky.
Confused? Let me explain, it all started about a week ago…
About the Author
Joanne Spencer’s work has appeared in Sick Lit Magazine, Mother’s Always Write, Wildflower Muse, Dying Dahlia Review and soon to be in Ink In Thirds. She currently works as a contributing journalist for The Florida Newsline, a reviewer for The Review Review and has published one novel, The Letter Keeper. Visit her blog, Poetry Road.