Marijean Oldham : Airline Lost and Found (memoir) Dec. 2018


My Southern Legitimacy is in evidence when I tell you that yesterday I wore a dress and stockings to attend a ladies’ tea party where we drank champagne all afternoon. Most of the ladies are aging exotic dancers, and had the shoes to prove it. It was delightful.

Airline Lost and Found

We land, at last. Hawaii! And it looks like it does in the movies, even at the airport which is breezy in the open air, surrounded by palm trees. The kids and I are tired, but soaking it all in.  We have just learned from the flight attendant that aloha means both hello and goodbye so we say it to each other, trying out different inflections. Aloha! Aloha!

We’re surrounded by people getting leis. I realize that it’s not a freebie, that you have to pay to get lei’d. Figures, I joke to my father-in-law, who’s probably heard that one before. My husband’s parents have taken us – all four – to Hawaii for a week, where they have a time share. 

We are their guests. This trip is a generosity that cannot be repaid. We hurry along to the baggage carousel. I’m looking everywhere, breathing in the smell of pineapple, of coconut. I’m so excited at the prospect of this vacation, even with kids and in-laws in close quarters, it seems like a dream come true. 

At my side, my husband drops to his knees and starts rifling through his carry-on bag.  He’s frantic. “Where is my Palm Pilot?” It’s his prized new toy, a costly extravagance we can’t afford. 

“I don’t know. Where did you have it, last?” My heart starts to pound. My stomach is sick. The kids and my in-laws and I stop and watch him search. 

He realizes with dread he’s left it on the plane in the seat pocket in front of him. It will, no doubt, be gone forever. His father tells him he can contact the airline; try to get it from lost and found.

But the spell has been broken. The warm tropical air feels stale. The kids grow silent, watchful. I step away, trying to reclaim the joy of just a moment ago. 

He stands, at last, face red. “Why didn’t you remind me?” I know that I will be made to suffer, that this vacation isn’t going to be what I’d hoped. 

For three days in tropical heaven, he refuses to speak to me. I try to ignore it, to enjoy the kids, the scenery, the hiking, to lose myself in books. I always pictured a Hawaiian vacation as romantic – isn’t this the place people honeymoon? The six of us are together for every meal, on every hike. We go to the beach as a unit. The kids, six and thirteen, swim and play. They turn dark brown before my eyes.  And all I want to do is go home, for him to talk to me again, for it to be the way it was before we landed, before we took off, before we met.