On Monday morning we woke early in Colorado. We had all had trouble with the high altitude, my son especially never slept well. This probably also had to do with his bed for the week: a mattress pulled off the downstairs bunk bed and put in the floor in our room behind a low dresser. We would have stuck him in the walk-in closet, but his sister already claimed that space.
The first night we kept the room too cold, even the heated floors doing nothing for his comfort. The subsequent nights we sacrificed our own body temperatures in the hope that we would sleep more than an hour at a time, but the required night light and double white-noise makers kept us staring up at the unused ceiling fan for hours.
The shuttle arrived later in the morning, the tiny mountain airport still a half hour away. It took two flights to get us home to Los Angeles, something I rarely do when traveling with our two tiny kids. Our three-year-old is an airport expert now. She knows the rules of going through security and, for the most part, stays in sweet form on the airplane. Pirate is nearly 15 months old, he’s exactly the age that one would brand a “travel nightmare.” He doesn’t like his car seat, he’s not content on a lap, pretzels and nuts mean nothing to him, and his mouth clamps shut in response to ear pain. The last few months criss-crossing the country with this fella have deepened my wrinkles.
The driver met us at baggage claim in LA with a little sign bearing our family name, and it was relief to hand over our heavy luggage crammed full of winter gear now useless. I love the first breath of California air when I exit the airport. Some joke that it’s a lungful of smog, but I can taste the ocean and the palm trees, and my independence. For once, the kids didn’t fall asleep in the car as it got darker and our shiny black vehicle crept through downtown traffic. Pigtail sang “It’s a smart world after all” and the baby kicked and kicked the back of the seat with glee. I rested my head against the window and tried to plan what I could possibly change into as soon as we got to the house.
We had fifteen minutes from the time we pulled into the driveway until we had to leave again. I didn’t even take my suitcase upstairs. An old silk dress, bright lipstick, and the boots I purchased for my sister-in-laws wedding in September. I was too tired even to attempt a messy bun, so I pulled my hair into a low ponytail and called it sleek.
We debated skipping the premiere altogether and eating sushi at a favorite little spot, but we wanted to support a friend, and we really wanted to see the movie. Traffic was terrible near Hollywood Boulevard, we got out of our car in valet behind someone dressed for the red carpet who immediately knew that I was not.
It was a great film, and premieres are always rowdy with cheers from the stars and filmmakers’ friends and fans. We ate the distributed popcorn for dinner and left the theater on adrenaline. The after party was at the hotel across the street, both the movie theater and party venue the same as two of my husband’s movie releases. We crossed the boulevard with a throng of others, two were actors from the movie. The Gorilla was stopped twice by fans for pictures, as we walked away from one group a paparazzo asked the kids who he was and then proceeded to yell his name. I giggled at this, then noticed that the star of the night’s movie was strolling just behind us, as camera flashes and personal phones whipped out all around us.
When the light turned green to walk, I reached back and took my husband’s hand. He asked if I could believe that just a few hours ago we had been in the middle of the snow with my family. I smiled and told him that I loved our exciting life.