Takeoffs & Landings

You pack the bags slowly. You're a terrible packer and you always have been, like the time you went backpacking in Europe with a backpack and two huge suitcases and you were pulling them on and off trains and everyone kept muttering in French and Italian and Spanish what an asshole you were.

Stupid American.

This is your first trip in an airplane with both kids and likely your last. Next time, there will be another suitcase, more coloring books to purchase for the plane. Your flight leaves at six in the morning, bound for New York where you will stay for four days in the country upstate with Hal's parent's, then drive to Manhattan "where the big buildings live". You will be tourists, all of you, like you were when you were a child and your parents wore neon fanny packs and took pictures of you and your siblings with a man in gold paint.

You've been to New York a dozen times since then, mainly when you were single and you crashed on Angela's couch, partied, crashed, partied, crashed, walked around, got lost, crashed.

You never went to the Met in those days or or the Natural History Museum. You never made plans to visit FAO Shwartz but you did spend a day once on the F train, riding back and forth for seven hours, writing down everything you saw: a break-up, a fist fight, an old woman fall down the stairs, a business man offer a teenage boy one of his cookies...

This time will be different. You have no plans except for a list of things that tourists do. You will see the Empire State Building first. Knowing Archer, you will likely visit it more than once.

Every night you read books about skyscrapers and every morning before school, he builds cities in the hallway, out of blocks and legos and instruments. His tallest building is a mandolin guitar wedged between two shoe boxes. The Arch in his name is for architect, you now know.


I love that we live in a time where we can cross the country in an afternoon, from one coast to the other, takeoffs and landings bookending a view of mountain tops and clouds. That, for the first time, our kids will get to experience Hal's hometown, sleep under the same roof that once housed their father's dreams. That we don't travel much, so when we do, it feels like magic.


They ask what will happen tomorrow, on the airplane. This will be Fable's first time in the sky, Archer's third. He asks what kind of games you have in the bag and you tell them its a surprise. Stop asking, it's more fun this way. Hal scratches Fable's back and tells them about the old house he grew up in, that its been years since he's been home, how excited he is we get to come with him. Then they climb into their separate beds with matching bandaids, make airplane sounds.

Whooooooossssssshhhhhhhhh, crrrrrrrrrr, fphhhhhewwwwww...

They can't wait for New York, they say.

Neither can you.

But first you must finish packing.



Dana | 12:04 PM

I've only been a tourist in NYC twice but I have to put a plug in for the Top of the Rock (at the Rockefeller Center) if Archer is into big buildings. There are multiple landings to view from and much more space to mosey around, I'm told, than the Empire State Building.
I also loved walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Best of luck and FUN to Hal and the family on the adventure.

Khon Kaen Traveler | 12:07 PM

Have so much fun, Bec!

oh, jenny mae | 12:50 PM

observing 7 hours on the subway sounds rad.

have a great time! i'm sure you will.

Glenda | 12:55 PM

I was born and raised in NYC. Just got back Tuesday night after a week there. I never get tired of being a "tourist" in my own city. I now split my time between Ca and Az.

Best of luck and much fun for you, Hal but especially for Archer and Fable.

Can't wait to read about it and see the amazing pictures that you will shoot!

Have fun! Enjoy!!!

Erica | 1:07 PM

We're leaving town tomorrow too - hopefully you're flying out of Burbank because it's easier but if not maybe we'll see you at LAX! It would be my favorite LAX "celebrity sighting".

Jenn B | 1:25 PM

I used to be a good packer, but since having kids - well, the Girl Scout comes out and I overpack. That said, I have been stuck on the tarmac for 4 hours before departing on an 8 hour flight, so I don't let anyone tell me that I don't need snacks!

We now have an 8+ hour flight to return home to family, so my 7yo packs his own carryon. UNO is the big thing lately.

Have fun on your adventure!

Anonymous | 1:36 PM

Call them magic bags. I travel with my son and my former mother-in-law and pack them each one for every trip. 9 years old and 59 years old - they always ask whether or not they can peak in their magic bags. Works every time.

Liz | 1:39 PM

As if I even eed to say it, but I will.

Have fun!!! xoxo

Tara | 1:59 PM

Have a wonderful time with your family!

Lauren | 2:16 PM

Fabulous. I love the 2nd person pov. And I love when you say you I think "yeah it is." because gah. the packing. THE PACKING.

Have an amazing, amazing time! I can't wait to hear the stories.

jessica | 4:25 PM

i second dana- you will love crossing the brooklyn bridge (should you decide to)
how cool if i ran into you (i will now stalk the empire state building!) let us know if you get recognized here. i'm interested in that sort of thing.

candace | 5:12 PM

Traveling to my neck of the woods. Enjoy the city, it is the best place for tourists with kids! Need any recs, just let me know!

Although I do have to say Brooklyn is way cooler!

Rebekah | 9:39 PM

Okay, all I can say is that I went to NYC for the FIRST TIME EVER with my two year old and sister last summer. We did all the 'tourist' things which were ALL great (Staten Island Ferry, Tourist Bus Tour was amazing, etc) except the Empire State Building. We went at 10pm at night when the lines were supposedly the least long and it took us 4 hours in line to get to top, which was then so packed we couldn't see a thing and they pulled us back from even looking over the edge which was fenced in anyway. Afterward, a New Yorker told us that it would be free, easier, and faster to just go up to the top of many NY hotels to get the same view. i don't know if that's true but I really regret going to the Empire State Building. I hope you have a better experience, we went in the summer, so maybe it will be less crowded. Have fun - I'm sure it will be amamzing no matter what!!

Norm Isaacsoon | 7:14 AM

Becca - you're not the only one eagerly awaiting the New York arrival.
We are pacing the floors of this old house.

The Tutugirl | 12:53 PM

Y'all will have so much fun! Have a great trip.

Jasmine | 12:58 PM

All I can think of is "good luck with the smells..."
But I upchuck at the thought of certain smells during pregnancy, so I am not a great reference point.

Carly | 3:15 PM

For a hot second, I thought (hoped) that you were bringing the gang to Europe....Paris?! I would have found myself wandering the monuments and tourist sites, hoping to run into you!

But an NYC trip is pretty awesome. Have fun!

Gretchen the Babysitter in Brooklyn | 9:50 PM

During the heat wave last summer, I rode the F train from Bergen St in station in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn to Coney Island, then all the way to the end of the line in Queens and back to Bergen St, just for the air conditioning.

My favorite free thing to do in New York is ride the Staten Island Ferry.

I highly recommend the transit museum if you feel inclined to make it to Brooklyn.

Ray | 12:01 AM

Wonderful writing as usual. I must sound like a broken record, but it's true.

Enjoy the top of the Empire State Building for me. I've still never been. Shame, since I'm a New Yorker.

Nonetheless: Have a fabulous time with the family! I know you will. <3

Pretzel Thief | 6:46 AM

"...takeoffs and landings bookending a view of mountain tops and clouds. That, for the first time, our kids will get to experience Hal's hometown, sleep under the same roof that once housed their father's dreams. That we don't travel much, so when we do, it feels like magic."

Ahhh...gorgeous and warm. Gorgeous warmth!

I must say, your writing reminds me somewhat of my father's. I've been (re)reading the letters he wrote to my mama in 1977 while in the army, and...man. He was only 22 then but the wisdom and sheer beauty in his writing is breathtaking.

It's too bad the letters are in Serbian...it'd be hard to translate, I fear they would lose their essence, or maybe not. My father died tragically in 1993 during the Fmr Yugoslav wars, a civilian death...I was almost nine and devastated beyond anything. The emptiness and pain never go away but they're no longer so acute...you only notice them sporadically and in particular circumstances. Things like his letters bring him to life, almost, and I'm so grateful for these fragments of who he was before me.

(Tangent, anyone? D'oh!)

Aaaaaanyway...have an absolute blast in NYC, safe flights in each direction, and may the weather gods smile down on you all with awesome weather!

Nanette | 5:58 PM

Have fun!

Amanda | 10:02 PM

Good luck with the packing. The first time my husband and I went to NYC, he forgot to pack pants, so make sure you get plenty of those. Have a great time!

elena from greece | 10:34 PM

we are just back from our first airplane trip of four! amazing experience! go for it! loved your post:)
oh, takeoff and landing a bit scary for my 30month old. perpare Fable for the big noise!

stacy | 9:25 AM

lovely post! Have a wonderful magical time in the city! xx