Charlie just finished up his second cross-country trip, and has continued to be the travel champion of the world. For those of you wondering about flying with infants, so far we give an A++ to Virgin America and Southwest, and an A to JetBlue. And an A++ to the traveling public, who restored my faith in humanity this trip. Everyone was delighted to see a cute baby get on their flight (WHAT?!), and I was offered more help than I could use getting our gear through security, folded, & stowed on the plane. Maybe it’s the time of year; lots of people were traveling specifically to spend Thanksgiving with their favorite tiny humans. Or maybe riding the Metro while pregnant gave me a skewed view of the damnable human race. But either way, I highly endorse traveling alone with a cane and an infant. Charlie slept the whole way there and the whole way back, with one short break for bouncing and singing songs. No sweat.
But this is not the story I come here to tell. We went to Oakland for my college roommate’s wedding. We arrived downtown around 1:00 pm for the 6:00 pm affair, having been awake and in action since 1:00 am local time. We couldn’t check into the hotel for another two hours, so we wandered the Sunday wasteland around Oakland’s convention center looking for a lunchtime establishment that was A) open and B) able to accommodate a stroller. I’d neglected to eat any meals up to that point and was feeling it. After we’d wandered for an hour and a half, we ate at Burger King, where a hobo spilled a little coffee on Charlie. He was a champ through all of this, & was just barely getting fussy towards the end as he was getting hungry himself.
By the time we got to our room, I’d decided that Oakland was a city entirely lacking in charm. We got ourselves cleaned up & took a quick nap that was very slightly too long for me to get us wedding-ready at a leisurely pace. The venue was an old movie house, a one-mile walk from our hotel. We were advised to get there early to get a drink and some popcorn. “Early” was not going to happen, but if I ran with my stroller & dress shoes, we could do “on time.”
One mile and some knee-sweat later: We made it! I got a cup of delicious I.P.A. at the concessions counter, put it in the cup holder of the stroller, and waltzed into the theatre with seven whole minutes to spare. I said some cheerful hellos to old friends as Charlie started lightly fussing. No problem, I can squeeze in a diaper change before the ceremony starts, so let’s just . . . Hmm. I seem to have left the diaper bag in the hotel room.
. . . Hmm.
Well, he’s in pretty good shape; I bet it will keep through the ceremony and I can go back to the hotel after and meet everyone at the reception. Jessica starts to walk down the aisle. She’s beautiful. Everyone stands up and claps. Charlie takes one look at this lovely moment, and starts SCREAMING.
Shit shit shit okay back in the stroller I’ll roll you to the lobby AS FAST AS I CAN and shit shit shit there was still a full cup of I.P.A. in the cup holder and now it’s all over the floor and stroller and baby blanket and I’ll just throw down these napkins real quick and fuck fuck fuck shh shh shh it’s okay let’s go to the lobby but first go down the hall so your screams can be acoustically amplified.
We make it to the lobby, sit in a chair, and I whip my boob out with absolutely no concern for modesty, and latch my red-faced, fat-teared, flailing baby to my bosom with all haste. He still has a wet diaper, but after 10 minutes of feeding he’s down to a mild whimper. We can go back in and sit down.
“And Neil, every day, wake up an be grateful that Jessica was willing to marry down.” And the guests laugh. Charlie inhales, and “BAHWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! AAUGGH! AAUGGH! AAUGGGGGGHH!” And no sooner had we sat than we were leaping to our feet and out to the lobby. (This time with no stroller, for the protection of the half-cup of I.P.A. that I fully intended to drink at some point in my life.)
Boob out fast as lightening. Nursing and slowly lowering the volume of the freakout. The lobby is a happening venue in and of itself; it’s a little cafe where people are looking to have a nice conversation with their friends over their unspilled ales. By moving to the lobby, I have not kept us from disturbing the public peace; I’ve merely mitigated the extent to which we’re ruining a wedding.
Okay, I think we can go back in now.
“. . . Man and wife!” And everyone cheers. And it’s over. Charlie’s mostly better, except for looking like he’d just been pulled from the wreckage of a sinking ship. Seriously, look how beat he looks.
I assure everyone who will listen that he’s a wonderful baby; he just has a terrible mother who left the diaper bag at the hotel. I took him to see A PLAY the day before, for Pete’s sake, and he was FINE. (It was an all-ages children’s play; I’m not a monster.) But anyway I have to go get that diaper bag now, so I’ll see you all again in like 45 minutes. But first I’m going to chug the parts of my beer that didn’t soak into my Graco SmoothRide.
My bones and skin and back, at this point, hurt like woah. Cross-country travel, fibromyalgia, spine stuff, a baby, and 3-ish miles of hungry stroller-pushing do not make for a happy body-feel. Across the street from the venue is the Koreana Plaza. I decide to see if they can save me.
Apart from my beloved fast-food establishments, elaborate Asian grocers are one of my top don’t-miss-it-until-it’s-gone parts of California living. I would only go to the big Japanese market in Costa Mesa about once a year when we we lived there, but I would get all the Sanrio office supplies and Pocari Sweat I’d need for the foreseeable future and go on about my business. The Koreana Plaza was a similar wonderland. As much as I wanted to browse the aisles in search of the perfect Little Twin Stars notebook set, Charlie still looked like the victim of a fraternity hazing, so I focused on my mission. I had no luck finding such a thing on my own, so I asked the man behind the tobacco counter if they had diapers. He responded with whatever is Korean for “I don’t understand your question.” So I pulled the blanket off Charlie & poked his squishy crotch area. “Diapers?”
“Ah! Maybe 3-A. On Right. Maybe.”
“Hooray. Thank you for your help!”
And behold, in aisle 3-A, on the corner of the top shelf, we’re three dusty packs of size 2 Huggies that had been up there since the Clinton administration. Mine! Officially, Charlie graduated to size 3 earlier this week. Unofficially, we’re saved, we’re saved!! How about wipes? Well, next to the spatulas is something labeled “Green Tissue,” with all of the rest of the information being labeled in Korean. But, on the back of the package was a small picture of other products from this brand, including a bottle with cartoon characters on it. So let’s say these are for babies and not for scrubbing floors.
I grab a couple packs of the Korean equivalent of Pocky for good measure, and we are checking out and on our way. I have by now fully reversed my opinion about Oakland being without charm, and I successfully clean Charlie up with the products purchased.
We get back to the ceremony venue in time to walk with the group to the reception at the Telegraph Beer Garden. It takes Charlie some time to come to terms with the fact that his reason for sadness has been removed, and he fusses for a little while. But eventually, he falls asleep in his stroller, and Mommy celebrates with a series of good decisions consumed simultaneously.
My friends are the best. I love them and they loved Charlie, even though they only got to experience him in the midst of his worst (bad-mommy-induced) fit I’d yet to witness. After I shoved as much of the donut wedding cake in my mouth as possible and finally drank an entire glass of delicious I.P.A., the loud music got to be a bit much for Charlie and he started fussing again. We excused ourselves just a touch early because he was ready to be done. I had asked a lot of him that day, and he did his best. I may have been sad to miss the remainder of the festivities, except that the whole walk back to the hotel, Charlie babbled and giggled to me like it was his job. When we settled in for the night, he spent the remainder of the evening being every bit as happy as he’d previously been unhappy.
So, maybe we came 2,900 miles to see 35 non-consecutive seconds of a wedding. But it was a fantastic, totally worthwhile trip, and Charlie is a great travel companion. A++; would do again.