Princess: Conquering the world one flight at a time |

Princess: Conquering the world one flight at a time

You know you’re in Santa Cruz when you stumble upon the local ukulele club having their weekly sing-along on the beach.

This is no small gathering — we’re talking at least 50 old folks in their Hawaiian shirts, chins up toward the sun under a cloudless, perennial summer sky belting out the lyrics to “Crocodile Rock” at the top of their lungs. It’s a refreshing scene, what with all the crazy stuff going on the world, with the horror show that is the presidential election, with gun violence and finding out one of your favorite friends “liked” Donald Trump on Facebook.

It turns out life is still bright and sunny on the Santa Cruz harbor. The calamari are still fresh and not frozen — thick, tender strips that melt in your mouth and taste like the sea. The long-haired hippie in line at the health food store looks more hipster in skinny jeans and sneakers that look fresh out of the box, his own baby messy haired and fancy free. Smoothies thick and cold made from succulent tropical fruit and homemade nut milk seep into my veins like the cold brew espresso used to make the best iced lattes I’ve ever had. And for some reason I decide to get the vegan pumpkin bread, even though meat is almost always on the menu, and who in their right mind would ever give up cheese? But today, under the ever-present California sunshine, it hits the spot.

Ditto that for beer, which at sea level doesn’t hit you over the head after one pint but is a nice, easy, pleasant buzz and can be enjoyed for longer stretches, especially on a patio with the sun on your face. And for some reason you’re not as hungry so you can go long stretches without eating, or you can eat less, or you can eat like a normal person eats instead of obsessing about what or how much to consume all day. So when you go to the best brunch place in the neighborhood, you don’t feel bad about ordering the California Benedict that comes on a homemade croissant, what with avocado and bacon and served with a fresh chili verde that’s spicy enough to cut into the richness of the dish without overwhelming it.

This story so far reminds me of something my friend Sarah said to me recently, which is, “It’s crazy, you talk like you don’t even have a baby.” And I just realized I’m doing that right now.

So yes, I’ll get to that part, the whole traveling-alone-with-a-baby-for-the-first-time thing that I wrote about last week, being as nervous and anxious and apprehensive as I was.

I’ve only flown once with the babe, to Minnesota. I had Ryan with me and it was a short flight, and still it wasn’t easy. While the babe didn’t fuss much, whenever he did cry, I’d start to sweat, so afraid of upsetting the people around me. Suddenly I understood my friends who always felt the need to make excuses for their kid’s behavior, behavior that I’d barely noticed until they’d mentioned it. Like, “he never does this, but he’s so tired from blah, blah, blah,” or “this is so unlike her, but she’s cranky because yadda, yadda, yadda.”

Well, I get it now.

Not to mention I’d be on my own taking care of the babe around the clock without Ryan for five days and without Victoria, my wonderful caregiver (I guess it’s not cool to say baby sitter anymore?) who comes two days a week so I can go to my office in Aspen and pretend to be a working professional, even if I do spend a disproportionate amount of time at yoga or socializing or grocery shopping. Let’s be honest: I would so totally be one of those women who would bring my nanny on vacation with me if I could afford one.

So I had images of trudging through the airport all bedraggled with messy hair and running makeup and a screaming, exhausted baby, wondering why I ever thought traveling alone with him would be a good idea.

But like everything in motherhood so far, having such low expectations has worked to my advantage as I continue to be pleasantly surprised.

It turns out the babe is a fabulous travel buddy.

Not only did he do great on the plane, he charmed the pants off everyone and anyone he came into contact with, what, now that he knows how to wave and clap. So whenever someone would go, “Well, hello! Look at you!” He would respond by smiling and waving, which would excite the other person into a cheer. And at that, he’d clap, which was probably the biggest crowd pleaser of all.

That and the fact that he literally passed out cold as soon as the jet engines fired up. I could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the people around me who made that face like, “Oh, great” upon learning we were sitting in their row. It took all the self-control in the world not to stick my tongue out at them.

For the most part though, people were so nice, lending a helping hand and fussing over the babe more than he’s ever been fussed over before. That’s either because we left the pug at home or because Aspen is the only place I know where people go totally crazy over the dog and ignore the human baby.

Not only did the whole experience restore my faith in humanity, it also gave me a feeling of pride that welled up inside me like dough as it rises, expanding in all directions, all warm and good smelling. It’s almost hard to believe: I am a mother, and this is my beautiful son.

And now, it’s official. Together,we can conquer the world — or at least make it to California and back.

The Princess wants to wish her baby brother a happy 40th birthday! Email your love to

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‘Welcome Strangers’ showing Sunday


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