I clutch my seatbelt in the backseat. I’m too lazy to buckle it fully but I cling for my dear life. Mom steers the wheel, zig-zagging through the Bay Area traffic.
“MAAAM” I yell…in my thoughts. I can’t distract Mom. I know I should’ve left the house 20 minutes earlier. I was all packed up and ready to leave. But I wanted a few more minutes standing by the kitchen counter, cluttered with apricots and mandarins and nuts and…those plantain chips. MMMM. How would I have guessed that the car also needed gas. Or that a fucking crash would add an extra 35 minutes to our estimated time.
My head thrashed forward. I prayed no cops would pull up out of nowhere like they always do. Mom already cut 5 minutes off the trip. Just a few more. PLEASE. I’m always late. Why. I literally don’t understand. Why.
“Mato how much longer?” Mom asks. “1.7 miles more on this road,” I reply as calmly as I could. I didn’t want to stress her out more. I put her in this situation. Please don’t be at the same stress levels as me, mama. I wish I could tell her how much I appreciated her erratic driving to get me to fucking Oakland airport on time.
How the hell are there so many people out on the streets driving at 3pm on a Tuesday. Seriously, does no one work? PASSPORT! I look through my backpack. Oh my god I left it at home. I throw my charger out while simutaneously trying to take my jacket off. The sweat’s been penetrating my layers of clothing. God this CLOTHING. So thick. But I have to wear all the heaviest shit bc my damn CARRYON IS SO FREAKING SMALL!
PASSPORT. God bless. It’s here. In the little pocket…well I’m glad I didn’t scream out loud during that mini panic attack. Keep mom as stress-free as possible. We’ve already gotten a weeee bit too close to the other cars.
I look out the left window. A small white Toyota to the front and a navy SUV trailing a few feet behind. The car tilts right as Mom squeezes her way into that tiny gap. Pretty impressive. So glad I didn’t drive. I’d probably add on time to the route instead of shaving the seconds off.
Red light. MTHRFKR.
An eternity later…
We’re off again. Coming only miles within the airport limits. The last bit right here. Just gotta get through this FREAKING traffic. The crash was over an hour ago…how is there still so much traffic!?! I look back down at my phone, checking the ETA. Ok, 17 minutes left. I’ll be there 6 minutes before checkin closes. I can do that. LET’S GO! Bless my mama.
The left turn signal is on. I grip the seatbelt, preparing. HONK! Mom’s the one honking this time. The bitch in the grey car just couldn’t let us go, could she? Why do people speed up ONLY WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO MERGE. LIKE WE BOTH KNOW YOU’RE GONNA SLOW DOWN AGAIN RIGHT WHEN YOU PASS US.
Whatever. Mom turns the next chance she can. TERMINAL 1 RIGHT AHEAD LETS GOOOOO. Here we go, here we go. Still 6 minutes left until checkin closes. I just need to BOLT.
“KEEP RIGHT MOM!”
“RIGHT THERE—IT’S RIGHT THERE!”
“WAIT FOR ME IN THE CAR I’LL GO GET MY BOARDING PASS AND COME BACK FOR THE REST OF MY STUFF!”
I jump out the car, racing to the airline checkin booth. Why the FUCK can’t I just checkin online?
Oh shit. Everyone has all their carryons with them. I thought we just had to get our passport checked..?
OK RACING BACK TO THE FREAKING CAR.
Mom’s still there waiting. I grab my carryon and run back to the airline checkin line. FUCK YES. AND 4 MINUTES TO GO.
“Hi, passport and place your carryon and personal item on the scale.” Um, ok. Why both together? I swear this isn’t a thing anywhere else.
Just over 18 kilos. Gimme my damn boarding pass betch.
“You’re 8 kilos over.”
WHAT THE FUCK. I throw my carryon down, ripping it open, and throwing everything that was only part valuable out. I weigh the bags again. 16 kilos. I pray I don’t have a heart attack. With my pulse rate, I’m about half-way there. I’m about to travel for over a month and I had carefully planned out everything I needed. What the hell do I take out?
“ONE MINUTE PLEASE—I’LL GET MY MOM!” I call Mom.
“Can you please park and bring a bag.” I shove everything back into my carryon and head over near the bathroom to de-pack and re-pack. Mom is a speedy mom. I see her racing towards me with a bag and…thank god, my laptop charger. I swear that damn thing adds at least three pounds though.
Thank GOD for mama. I throw a new, cute blue sweater I had just gotten with mom into the bag. I guess I don’t need that? Green dress, denim skirt. Bye. Contacts…bye! Yeah, you can imagine I nearly passed out after I boarded and realized that in my rush I LEFT MY FUCKING CONTACTS. Four pairs of pants? Yeahh I need that but my contacts? NO I LEFT THOSE BEHIND. BECAUSE WHO THE FUCK NEEDS VISION RIGHT?
“Mato wear some of your clothes. You need SOME clothes. You’re going to be walking around Italy naked.”
I grab a pair of green dress pants and slip them on over my leggings. I have a casual jacket, a light pullover, and a windbreaker out on the floor. I tie all three around my waist and shove everything I can into the pockets. Including my Tums. I may not have been thinking about my ability to see but at least my stomach will be under control.
Mom holds my wallet. That thing is like 40 pounds itself. Thrashing the bags around with our hearts pounding, we scurry to the checkin counter again.
FCK THIS. “Can you please just let her go. Please, she barely has anything left to wear.” Oh mama, what would I do without you.
Checkin bitch barely lets me go, handing me my boarding pass and eyeing me carefully to make sure nothing else I had given to mama slips into my bags.
…a few do end up back in my arms. Although not my contacts because I’m obviously not blessed with on-the-sport thinking. If I was, I wouldn’t have gotten into this mess. But seriously, what kind of airline weighs the personal item and carryon together? Worse than United. I’m telling you. Worse than fucking United Airlines.
I run to the security line, which unfortunately is right in front of the checkin counter. My mom hands me the first things she can in the left behind itemsbag without checkin bitch noticing. ALMOST THROUGH SECURITY.
“MATO! YOU FORGOT YOUR PURSE!” Mom yells, running over with my purse.
“I DON’T NEED IT!” Checkin bitch isn’t far away and I don’t want anymore drama from her sassy ass. Mom doesn’t care. She shoves my purse into my arms as I head into security. But honestly, thank god. I need that shit.
My bladder bursting, my neck twitching from stress, and my backpack overflowing with the clothes I hammered back into my carryon, I make it through security. Right to my jungle of a gate. Checkin bitch lied to me. This MOFO ISN’T EVEN BOARDING YET.
But I made it. I FUCKING MADE IT.
I throw my bags on the floor, frantically searching for my phone that I pounded in there somewhere. I open my FAM group chat and text, “I LOVE YOU” to my mom and my sister (who’s been texting non-stop if I made it) to let them know this girl, in fact, DID make it in. She MADE IT.
I call both of them to make extra sure they know how much I appreciate them and loved them. I add in some extra “thank you”s for mama. She doesn’t need this stress.
Appreciate your moms, folks. They make shit happen. Forreal. I would’ve missed my 10hr flight if it wasn’t for my brilliant, speedy, make-impossible-possible mama.
And here’s to close calls. And moms again. And even that damn checkin bitch who let me off the hook for my 1kg overweight bags. God bless. God FCKN bless.