Sending Josephine to school post-COVID was really exciting. All of a sudden, we met a flood of cool new people. Literally, everyone was great. For the first time ever, Jamil was excited about getting to know some of the other dads. When his friend Anthony invited him to join a Fantasy Football league for dads at the Briar Club, Jamil was stoked. He couldn’t wait to meet more of the dads and get to know them outside the traditional parent setting. So, when we planned a trip for Labor Day to Watercolor, Florida, Jamil said point-blank, we cannot miss the flight home on Wednesday afternoon; I have my draft.
Yeah, yeah, no worries.
Some time on Wednesday morning, Jamil asked me what time our flight left, and without even looking, I said, “12:20.” I just knew, no need to verify.
We set out from home for the airport around 10:50 because our house isn’t far from the airport, and the airport is truly tiny. You can basically just roll up, check your bags from the curb, then go park your car. It’s a no-brainer. All was well, until Jamil got a notification on his phone and looked down to see that the flight actually left at 11:50. So, 30 minutes really makes a difference when you’re cutting it that close, right? No time to breathe. Jamil stared straight ahead and muttered, “I asked for ONE thing.” So, I put the pedal to the medal and started zipping off to the airport.
Needless to say, we didn’t make the flight. And there weren’t any other flights to Houston that afternoon – not from Panama City, not from Destin, not even from Pensacola! We wouldn’t be able to get out for two more days. The only option was to drive to Mobile, three hours away, to catch a 4:50 flight. That would get us in at 6:30. The draft started at 7:00. We could do this! But there was one more hitch. As we rolled into the airport, our fuel tank was under the empty line. We couldn’t even leave the airport until Jamil took a taxi to the gas station and returned with a gallon of gas in a plastic tank.
This was a low low.
Finally, we got on the road – Jamil, me, Josephine, and both dogs. Josephine could tell things were rough. As we waited for Jamil to get back with the gas, Josephine had put her arms around my neck and promised that everything would be okay. (God, I love her.) But as we started driving down the small highway that would eventually connect to I-10, I wondered if she might be wrong.
Jamil didn’t utter a word. He stared straight ahead, seemingly mesmerized by the asphalt or the yellow lines of paint on the road. Determined to make the best of things, I rubbed his arm and said, “How long can you really go without talking to me?” To which he replied, “Easily 3 hours.” Yikes.
I won’t bore you with details of the drive – not the fact that a panel flew off our precious Ford Flex, not the difficulty finding a bathroom for Josephine, not the fact that the Mobile airport is at the end of the longest, traffic-light-lined street on Earth. Nope, I’ll just take you to the Mobile Airport, which is NOT the nicest airport. The “i” in the word Terminal on the façade has fallen over; the parking lot has weeds growing through the concrete.
At the Mobile airport, we received more unsettling news: our flight had been delayed by a storm in Houston. They didn’t know when (or if) our plane would take off. Passengers queued at the gate, getting vouchers for future travel. Jamil and I contemplated staying somewhere overnight. We had given up on the idea of his draft. That was dead in the water. Just as I was about to get up and tell the United agents that we, too, were throwing in the towel on this flight, the desk attendant announced, “The storm has passed; we will board in five minutes.” I looked at Jamil and said, “As soon as we land, you book it over to the Uber stand. I’ll get the rest.” This sparked a little hope.
Somehow, it all worked out. The draft started right as we landed in Houston, and Jamil did his picks from his phone. He made it to the club in time to hang out with people and have a few drinks. I managed to get all five bags, both dogs, and Josephine to the car. Josephine went to sleep at a reasonable hour. All was well that ended well. And Jamil and I are still married.
Author: Jessica Givens.