Time was, I flew the red eye to stretch my vacation dollars (cheaper flights) and vacation time (no days lost to travel). In those pre-laptop, pre-baby days, I’d board with my New Yorker or a stack of student essays and read (or not) and doze (or not) — it didn’t much matter, I just hoped the other passengers in my row woudn’t talk to me. I’d take a sudafed when I landed (the only stimulant I’ve ever needed) and power through the day.
We stuck with the red eye for the first couple years of Ben. We’d nurse and doze; he was a good traveller, and jet lag can’t touch someone on a 3-hour sleep cycle.
But then Ben got too interested in planes to sleep on one, and Eli arrived, not such an easy traveller. We abandoned the red eye in favor of daytime flights with videos and lots of books.
Till this vacation, when somehow the red eye made sense again. I noticed as we boarded that everyone else on the flight was traveling childfree, and I eyed them with some nostalgia, envying their fat novels and coffee, or their undistrubed eye shades and neck pillows.
But then Ben conked out with his head in my lap, and Eli flopped heavily on my chest, mouth open, fingers clutching his blanket. And although my arm fell asleep from Eli’s weight, and Ben’s head seemed to be putting a dent in my hip bone, for a few moments I forgot my discomfort and just watched them sleep.