Back Up in the Air

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"manhattan man" was one the characters on sex and the city to whom i have related for many years. he was the guy miranda dumped 10 minutes into their blind date, after he turned up his nose at her plans to visit her grandfather in connecticut. "i haven't left manhattan in 10 years," he boasted, explaining that everything he needed was right here.

although i come pretty close, i am not quite as myopic. in the past 15 years, i have left the island to spend quality summer time in montauk, visit various family members who live in jersey, ventured into the "outta" boroughs and popped upstate and into connecticut. in 2006, i even cruised to the caribbean for nine days.

however, my mode of transportation when i escaped the city has been car, jitney, boat or train. that's right, i haven't been on a plane in a decade-and-a-half. so a few weeks ago when my husband, neil, thought we all should head to florida to watch my son's baseball team play in a three-day tournament, i felt like an earth-bound angel who just got her wings back.

they had been clipped in 1995 when luke was born. before that, i worked for an ad agency with a client in beautiful downtown cincinnati. at least once a week i got up at 4 a.m. to catch the 6 a.m. delta flight out of laguardia, then came home on the 6 p.m. flight (unless the meeting went long and i had to take the 8:30 p.m.).

once i became a stay-at-home mom and freelancer with local clients, my business travel days were over. obviously from the aforementioned travelogue, the spots to which i journeyed for pleasure did not require me to be "wheels up."

flying to orlando was a virgin flight for both of my children. i, however, was more concerned for myself than for them, a first for me since becoming a mother. i was back in saddle, so to speak, and wanted to enjoy.

we showed up at jfk at dawn-and the joint was jumpin'. like anna kendrick in up in the air, i wheeled my luggage through the airport looking around like a stranger in a strange land. it is because of a scene from that movie that i got a new suitcase for the trip. i had had the same one since my honeymoon more than two decades ago. it had wheels, yes, but no retractable handle. there was this strap that allowed me to pull it along. i would go two feet and the bag would flop over. neil always ended up carrying it for me.

my new one looks state of the art. it is also huge. neil referred to it as "the rolling steamer truck." he is still a frequent business flyer and assumed the role of george clooney. aside from mocking my valise, he directed me to the proper lines and told me to remove my shoes (i was wearing my daughter's neon orange socks-hey, it was early) before going through the metal detector. i marveled at the shops (i heart ny on everything) and eateries (dunkin' donuts) in the jet blue terminal. you'd think i'd never seen a television before when i settled into my seat on the plane.

the departure and return trips were equally as good, but as always, i was glad to be home. i admit i miss being up in the air, but when i'm down on the ground there is no place i'd rather be than new york city.


lorraine duffy merkl's debut novel, fat chick, from the vineyard press, is available at and

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