I have lived in somewhat unusual places like Japan, Russia and Los Angeles. I was a global project manager and have traveled all over the world. But between you and me, I never really liked it - the logistics, the organization, the packing, the rushing to the airport in the winter. These things are not for me. So having kids was a fine excuse to stop traveling so much.
And now I'm out of practice. For my recent trip to California I checked my itinerary about ten times, looking for mistakes. I agonized over my car rental. I shopped for an entire week of food so Ralf wouldn't forget to feed the kids. I smothered my babies with kisses as if they could be rationed during my absence.
I kissed their pillows one last time before I left, in case, God forbid, something should happen to me.
Ralf brings me to the airport. It was a bit like our old dating days when I would visit him in Milan for the weekend and he would bring me to the train station to return to Germany. . . but only almost because now we are partners in this different life that includes children.
He leaves me to go through security and I face a stern security guard who wants to throw away my eye cream because I hadn't put it in a plastic bag.
'Go ahead,' I tell her. She doesn't like this. She wants me to go get a plastic bag.
'I don't have time,' I tell her.
'Then we must throw it away,' she says.
'Go for it,' I say.
'You understand, that's the rule,' she says.
'I understand,' I assure her.
Inexplicably, however, she does not throw it away. She runs it through the machine and I furtively stick it back in my purse on the other side.
The poor Italian guy in front of me loses his shower gel, however. The penalty for having expensive toiletries, I guess.
At the gate I look around and wonder, as I always do before flying, if this will be the end of my journey. I miss my babies and melodramatically wonder if I will see them again. I wonder if my last Facebook status, 'Laura has left the room,' will be my epitaph.
But I am flying with Lufthansa. The Germans may not care about customer service but they take their engineering seriously.
On the plane I wonder how people can afford business class with their kids.
No one is sitting next to me. A small miracle.
I jot down notes for my upcoming meeting.
I read about the octuplets.
I miss my boobies.
I miss Ralf.
I am a free radical. Ten more days before I am the nucleus of my family again.
We take off and the countdown begins.