Eden M. Kennedy

mission accomplished, pal

Eden M. Kennedy is the co-author (with Alice Bradley) of the book Let's Panic About Babies! (St. Martin's Press, 2011).

A former college-radio DJ, Mrs. Kennedy has driven cross-country six times in a 1973 Volkswagen Bug and enjoys standing on her head.

Currently she works at a nonprofit and is just about finished writing her first novel.

Jackson was antsy on the plane to Denver. I took the aisle seat and put him next to the window and he kept slamming the window shade up! And then down! So it would be light! Then dark! And then light! Until I told him to stop! or! I! would! kill him! And also because we were getting some looks from the man in front of me. Normally, I don't respond to subtle social pressure like that, if you have a problem with me then you need to say something, I do not read minds. But I'm also sensitive to the fact that when they're on airplanes children's boundaries don't necessarily shrink the way an adult's do, so it's my job as a parent to keep my kid from invading the privacy and comfort of those trapped within a six-foot radius of his idly kicking feet.

So about an hour into the flight I'd finally got him to pay attention to a story in his Shrek comic book when he slammed the window shade up! And I glanced over and saw huge red canyons below us and I yelled, "Jackson! Look! That's the Grand Canyon!" And he listened while I went on about how famous it is, how that river, doesn't it look like a snake, it carved slowly through solid rock over millions of years, and, you know, whateverthefuck, everything I could recall from eighth grade earth science class with the Christian teacher with the beard who liked to tell us how much he loved his wife.

I was so involved in my little geology lesson that it took me awhile to register that the man in front of me who'd been casting us looks over his shoulder started trying to talk over me, telling everyone in general, "Hrm, HRM! CANYONLANDS! Look! We're over UTAH! HRM! Those are the CANYONLANDS. The CANYONLANDS! In UTAH! Hrm!" And I was all, whatever, dude, I was wrong but my kid is four, I could tell him we were flying over the lunar surface and he'd believe me, and it would probably be more confusing if I started telling him with equal conviction that everything I just said was a dirty lie but this next thing I was about to tell him, that would be the truth. And anyway, by that point Jackson had decided to imitate my authoritative tone and was explaining to me how a green bullet and a black bullet went flying through the air and a snake caught them in its mouth and ate the bullets and the guy was still going on about UTAH and I was just done with him. But for some reason he wasn't done with us.

When the plane landed -- and this was cute, the pilot did a little touch-and-go thing where we came down almost to the runway, then pulled back up, then went back down and landed, which lifted everyone's wigs a little, and Jackson said, "Oh! That scared my pecker!" So anyway, Mr. Utah CANYONLANDS, he stood up in the aisle to wait for the door to open, but the plane was small and his head was right next to the overhead compartment where I'd stowed my camera. I opened the compartment door and got my camera out, but then the guy shifted his weight over to the right and when I brought the compartment door down it was about a quarter of an inch from his head, which, you know, he noticed, as you would, if something whispered past your ear, even if it moved very slowly and carefully so that the person moving it wouldn't hit you and was hoping you wouldn't notice so she wouldn't have to ask you to move your self-righteous little head. It didn't work, and for this, my failure to acknowledge his annoying presence, I got a slow, burning look of total incomprehension, which I pretended not to see. Really, sir, I am not in the generous mood to connect with you, or gently reconcile our differences, or pay you any goddamned attention at all.

Well, as Jackson was in a big rush to stay on this guy's heels as we got off the plane, we managed to remain two feet behind him, down the stairs and across the tarmac, which gave me plenty of time to examine him from the neck down, where it turned out that he was a shorts, socks, and sandals kind of guy, with the Polartec fleece and the Indiana Jones hat, and a fiddle. Not a violin, a fiddle, in a case, and it all started to come together. Uptight folk music mountain nerds! They're everywhere, and they take themselves very, very seriously. It was then that I got a look at his nondescript, L.L. Bean-wearing wife and son, who'd apparently been the ones across the aisle he'd been yelling at about UTAH. They seemed nice enough, so my opinion of Mr. UTAH softened a micron.

But then we got into a sort of hallway that led us into terminal B and Mr. Neurotic Need for My Attention, he just couldn't stop looking back at me and Jackson, and I was getting sick of it. Plus I was hobbled with a hundred-pound messenger bag, a thousand-pound laptop bag, my camera, and Jackson's lap robe and pillow. With exquisite timing, Jackson started whining about the walk and demanding that I carry him, too. So, you know, great fucking chance to let this guy get ahead of us. Jackson and I stopped so I could rearrange my load and gently tell my little son that if he didn't carry his own lap robe and/or pillow I'd gladly leave all three of them behind. But the guy, Mr. UTAH!, he WOULDN'T LEAVE US BEHIND. He fucking waited for us. He did!! There was a door we had to walk through to finally get into the terminal itself and he just stood there, holding it open, letting people stream through, waiting for us, watching for us. When Jackson and I finally had no choice but to walk within a foot of this strange, strange man I felt as though I had no choice but to grudgingly mumble "Thank you" in his general direction and keep on walking, whereupon he let the door go and followed us, and said to my back, ". . . should've just pinned the door open." And I was all, Jesus Christ, buddy, are you TALKING to me? Who should have pinned the door open? You? Me? The airlines? Who gives a fuck? Where are your wife and kid? Do they just amble on through life while you get all stalker on strangers who have a hard time pinpointing their exact location above the earth's surface, do they just wait for you to get over it and catch up again? Fortunately, Jackson and I were immediately bestowed with the opportunity to practice jumping on and off the airport's "moving sidewalk," and so we moved the fuck away from Fiddle Boy and his Strange Need to Connect with Us and Right Our Geographical Wrongs.

If I was willing to expend this much energy on the plane ride alone, imagine the details I could give you about the rest of our trip if I had the time. Stories will come as time allows. I didn't take nearly as many photos as I'd hoped to, but here are a few.