In booking my ticket I was pleasantly surprised to find that the first class ticket on Saturday cost the same as the economy class ticket on Friday (OK, it cost ten bucks more). I wasn't sure about the social etiquette of traveling with a pre-verbal infant who hates sitting still so I asked my aunt.
"Philippa," I said, "Do you think it's rude for me to take a baby in first class?"
"I wouldn't think so," she said.
"I mean, I'm pretty sure he'd be quiet, but... It's just not done, I don't think."
"Well, Svea, you should do what you're comfortable with," she said.
I decided to do it. Because, hey, what I'm comfortable with is riding in the lap of luxury. And I wanted to see if it was still a luxury experience with a 25 pound baby on my lap, several stains down the front of my shirt (milk, OJ, unidentified black shmutz, more milk) and a bag full of diapers safely stowed in the overhead compartment. I have no idea how I forgot to add "infant" to the reservation.
As usual, the afternoon of our departure I'm running late. My lovely aunt helps us to the train station. Due to some lucky metro timing we arrive with ten minutes to spare. I give her an emotional farewell (oh, the pain of saying adieu to childcare from trusted family members!) and trot down to the platform. "Oh," says the ticket-taker, "You're in Business Class!" I mean to ask him what the hell that means but instead I ask which car.
As I hurry inside trying hard to look like a Young Professional who just happens to have an infant-like goiter on my chest, the attendant comes rushing up the aisle. Certain that she's going to ask me if I'm in the 'right' *ahem* car, I try to hold my head up high while shoving our suitcase into the luggage rack. I needn't have worried. "Would you like some help with that?" she asks.
Rachel the attendant is in love with Sweet Baby James. Sometimes it's easy to tell a childless woman. The kind of woman who loves kids but would never have them, whose well-rested face lights up at the most mundane of baby tricks... Often slim, pert, looks young for her age. Let us all take a minute and pray to be assigned such an angel to watch over us during our travels.
She brings me fruit juice and extra chocolates, smiles at Sweet Baby James every time she passes and by the end of the trip is holding him as I happily rest my arms. She also brings me a pillow, a blanket, and a massive bottle of water that I still haven't finished. To my surprise, having the baby with me seems to make her like me more. I notice the curt tone she uses with other punkass-looking passengers (the drug dealer sitting behind me discussing deliveries on her cell -- also, it turns out, a mother of two -- or the inexplicable couple in front of us who never seem to say anything above a mumble) is kind of sharp. But to us she is lovely.
|Rachel the attendant wanted to take a picture of us. She was that nice.|
Rocked by the train's steady sway and no doubt exhausted from what has become Svea and Baby's Excellent Adventure, Sweet Baby James goes down after only 10 ants and sleeps for at least half the ride. I was not expecting this. I have come unprepared sans books, magazines or music to pass the time. I stare out the window pondering life and its vicissitudes, the beauty of a baby (my baby!) sleeping on my chest. The first time I've had nothing to do for two straight hours since I don't know when. He wakes up in time for dinner which is mashed potatoes off our complimentary roast beef entrée though what he really wants is the blueberry cheesecake (or perhaps its lid).
No poop has emanated thus far, but it's time to change the 'couche' (diaper in French, or portmanteau of c*nt and douche in street parlance, thanks urbandictionary.com) so I take baby to the restroom. What luck, there's a baby sign on the door! We make use of a decent-sized fold down changing table inside. It takes babies up to 15 kg. At 11.3, Sweet Baby James might be pushing it by the time he's out of diapers, but that won't matter because we'll be in San Francisco.
|Sweet Baby James on the fold-down changing table. WIN!|
I gotta say, it was pretty great. I've always enjoyed train travel and I think Sweet Baby James does too. I love it for the scenery, he for the people. What a sad day it will be when he grows up to realize that not every stewardess wants to hug you, gruff old men don't just break into smile when you start blowing raspberries, and sometimes strangers are not just friends you haven't met yet.
Tomorrow we fly to Vancouver. I'm working on a '10 Things I Learned About Traveling With a Baby' post so let me know if you have any tips. Happy trails!