Flying Solo

There’s something super special about a first love. Not the first romantic love, but your first best friend, that person that comes in just a little closer to your heart than everyone else, because they get you. I wrote this entry in February of 2009:

I had a best friend when I was around age four, named Robert Baer.  We were determined that we would marry (and in fact did so a few times, in ceremonies officiated by whomever was nearby).  I knew everything about this kid.  I knew that when I had sleepovers, I didn’t want to sleep in his bed because he was a kicker.  I knew how to wind him up and how to talk him into letting me ride the plastic horse hosted up on springs first.  We knew we were bionic, his capabilities surprisingly similar to Steve Austin’s, mine to Jaime Summers; though my bionics had the additional benefit of allowing me to stick pennies to my forehead using only spit.  We would steal his mother’s bottles of Prell shampoo and dump them onto the dog, and I coveted Robert’s amazing luck to be able to pee standing up, which I tried to imitate over and over (looking back I’m very sorry to his parents for those attempts, and also wonder: who carpets a bathroom?)

I can’t help but see this same friendship when I see Roan with Sophia.

The way they automatically reach for each other’s hands at street corners.

The way they stop talking when I’m within earshot and say “Nothing”, in unison.

…I know they will be friends for life, even when life separates them. This kind of friendship cannot be undone.

So this is why, when I received a text from Laura, Sophia’s mother, a few days ago my heart stopped. It read:

Would you ever consider putting your eldest on a plane to St. Louis for a few days this summer?

See, Sophia and her family moved in May of 2009. All the things that need to happen to make a family move did happen to Sophia and her family. But we’ve stayed in touch with email and the occasional letter and some iChat. Roan still counts Sophia as a best friend, and looks at pictures of her regularly.

My heart stopped, because I knew it would be the greatest treat in the world for my boy to get to go visit his friend. But flying alone? And having a vacation without me or his dad? What what??

I threw the idea cautiously at Roan who said he needed to sleep on it. Flying alone seemed a little intimidating. That night, Joe, Sophia’s dad sent an email and named dropped Six Flags. And a 10-story slide. And a water park. And Roan jumped, whole-heartedly into the idea. He is now counting the days. Visiting St. Louis is the first thing he mentions to everyone when they ask about summer plans. Breakfast each morning is spent outlining exactly how excited he is to see Sophia.

And so. My eldest, who it seems was only born about 5 minutes ago and who couldn’t possibly survive 10 minutes without his mother is apparently quite self-sufficient. I’m so proud of him for being this kind of kid – but it also kills me a little that he’s this kind of kid. Fortunately, this family of Sophia’s is more family than friend to all of us Nelson Calls over here. And I do not fear at all for my boy while he’s gone. I fear a little for his father and myself. But we’ll try to be ok. How could I say no to reuniting these two?

Thoughtful.

Adventurous.

Mischievous.

Friends Forever.

10 thoughts on “Flying Solo

  1. Pretty much can’t deny these two a reunion in The Lou so thanks for making this happen. We’ll take good care of him. We promise not to send him back filled with sugar; he’ll get plenty of sleep; and I’ll start working on hard math computations with them while here.

  2. He’s going to have so much fun! My mom put me on a plane to Florida (from Kansas City) to spend the week with my favorite aunt when I was 11. I had never flown before, but it was so exciting that I didn’t even think to be scared. I remember how nice everyone was on my way there and back. My mom was the most overprotective person I can imagine, but somehow my aunt talked her into it. She and Dad made it through with flying colors and never mentioned their worry to me until years later. Everyone relaxed once I got there and you will, too. Try to think of it as time to spend alone with the little guys. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, too. Just think of all the great stories Roan will come back with!

  3. Roan’s going to have an awesome time!! I really do think they take great care to watch over the kids on these flights, but I also know that mamas have to worry. Just try to focus on what an adventure you’re sending him on, and what cute pictures you’ll get to share with the rest of us (right Joe and Laura?)

  4. He will be just fine on the plane. My parents divorced when I was 8 and moved to opposite coasts to get as far away from each other as possible, so my brother and I started flying solo at the age of 8 and 5 from Seattle to Atlanta. It’s no big deal, you will get to walk him to the gate, Sophia’s parents will get to pick him up at the gate in St Louis, and the flight attendants will coddle him and remind him about a billion times not to get off the plane until one of them comes to get him. If anything he will be excruciatingly bored on a plane by himself for 3 hours.

  5. I don’t even know Roan in person but I’ve been reading you for years now. How is it that it seems he’s growing up too fast even for me?

  6. WOW! I’m so in awe of his bravery and you and Anson’s, too! Good on ya for raising that boy to be so independent. What a great experience this will be for all of you!

  7. Okay, I’ve been lurking for a while, but am finally jumping into the comments column to express my jealousy that you have a little boy, not a little girl. My mother has flown out from CA to Brooklyn for the past 2 summers to pick up my now 10 yr old and take her back West for a visit with her grandparents. I then fly out to bring her back. I understand that we can walk her to the gate and my folks can meet her at the gate on the other side, but I have been warned by enough people (including the friend of a flight attendant) that, even tho I’m a particulary unparanoid parent, I have fears about my little girl being unprotected from predators (i even have a hard time using that word) on transcontinental flights. Would love to hear more experiences of parents of solo-flying girls (in the last 5-10 years?) that would ease my fears.

  8. Darn it Jodi…you always make me ruin my mascara at work! thanks for that. I’m proud of you for conquering your fears in the name of Roan’s friendship. I remember my big flight alone…I was 13…and I’ve put my baby on a plane too to see Dad when we lived far away. 🙂 My prayers are definately for you to survive it, as he will have a blast, and not understand what the big deal is.

  9. this is very fantastic story. i couldn’t help but to read more everyday. i hope to read more from roan. is there any site that i can visit with regards to my problem?

  10. Pingback: Pistols and Popcorn » S-u-m-m-e-r

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