Morning: We left Tamaqua for the airport right on time: 7 a.m. We did the same when Mary Ruth and youngest son, Michael, visited Brandon in April. And like our trip to Newark’s airport in April, we arrived around 9:30 without much traffic delay.
I did not go with the rest of the family in April because back when the trip was being planned, we had an elderly cat that needed daily medical attention. I did not want to put Snowball in a kennel, so I thought it best to stay home and take care of her. She eventually died before the April trip but the flight arrangements had been made and visa applications sent. Another reason involved the annual local American Cancer Society Telethon with which I volunteer as producer. Its air dates fell within the April trip dates. Since I was staying home to help with the telethon, I felt it only right to ask the event’s chair (and a former student of mine at Tamaqua Area HS), Joe Krushinsky, to accompany me to China. He agreed, and when Brandon appeared on the telethon via the Internet and made a pledge, Joe announced that he would be coming to Bejing in just a few weeks to collect the pledge. Perfect.
Afternoon: Thirteen hours on a plane. That may not seem too bad until you are stuck in the middle of those 13 hours. Actually, I began to think we were stuck in time. The Continental Boeing 777 is equipped with TV screens at every seat so you can pick from a wide variety of movies, TV shows, music or games. Screens mounted on the walls alternate between images of a world map showing the location of the plane and text telling you how far you’ve gone, how far to your destination, the time remaining to arrival and the temperature outside the plane (in case you were thinking of talking a walk during the flight). I swear we were stuck on “8 hours to destination.” But I kept thinking, “In just eight hours, I’ll be hugging Brandon.” That thought would get me through the flight.
Evening: To help time pass more quickly, we were served dinner, a “light” snack (a cheeseburger and ice cream), several rounds of non-alcoholic drinks (and 10 small pretzels) and breakfast. Back in April, Michael was sick for three days after eating the fish dish on the plane. Joe and I both decided on beef. I had planned to read some of my Ted Kennedy book during the flight, but the consensus seemed to be “darken the plane and get some sleep,” so that option disappeared. Instead, I decided to watch a movie or two or three or four. I’ve always wanted to see Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” so that was my first choice. Later, I bypassed the “Godfather” trilogy, “Gone with the Wind” and most of the Harry Potter movies for some films I never knew existed – and after watching them, I understood why I never knew they existed.