We arrived in beautiful, sunny Scottsdale, Arizona last Wednesday. The lack of sleep the night before we left with trying to get to sleep much earlier than we were used to wound up being a fitful 3 hours sleep, knowing that alarm clock was ready to go off at 4am.
Dragging ourselves and baggage through the airport begins our early day. I have become the schlepper of the luggage now for me and my husband. Despite his age, he’d always been strong and took care of the heavy lifting, but with all the illness he’s suffered in past years, his age has caught up with him; muscles diminished, his pace once many steps ahead of mine now lag behind me.
Traveling seems to be getting more difficult with every new trip. Airlines give you less and charge you more. The once upon a time joy and ease of travel has become a methodically planned regime. With each consequent trip there’s a new change or rule from the airlines.
It wasn’t so long ago the airlines began offering us to print out our boarding passes at home, giving those who’ve done so, priority checking in line. This is no longer good enough, we now have to check in to a computer kiosk first, bags in tow, to print out our own airline destination tags before entering the check in line. It appears that the people behind the check in counter no longer have anything to do but check your passport and count you in.
This trip I discovered, they no longer take our bags at check in and weigh them, or do we cart them through the long US custom lines before getting to baggage drop off where an airline employee is there to lift the bags onto the belt. No, now we follow the check in rules and drag our bags a few meters to a new post, the newfangled x-ray machine belts. This is where you lift your own bags onto the machine and it electronically weighs and measures your bag’s dimensions before it even begins to move. That’s if you can lift your bags on yourself, otherwise you may be SOL, hoping someone will come along to lift them for you.
I gathered up my 2 hour sleep strength to lift 3, 50 pound bags and couldn’t help but wonder how the elderly can travel without someone younger or stronger to, first figure out the electronic requirements of checking in, then to summon the strength to lift their bags. I was reminded of how much I missed my husband’s once strong arms to do the heavy lifting.
After that workout, we were off to go through US customs, then through security – getting practically undressed and re-dressed while placing shoes, hats, jackets, purses, computers, and what not onto the belt. The last hurdle came when boarding the plane with having to once again lift the two carry-on bags into the overhead bin. That was another test of my physical strength. I was feeling my age. If you’re lucky, a decent human being seeing a damsel in distress with her aged husband might offer a hand, but not on that trip.
My husband watched me with adoration in his eyes and I could feel the sadness in his heart knowing he was no longer the hero who looked after such matters. I smiled at him knowingly and said, “It’s my turn now Hon, I’m the man. I got this.” In my own heart I ached for all those times we traveled together and he took the reins; the days I shamelessly took for granted.