26DEC08 – Ate a hearty breakfast at a little diner just a ways from where I’m sitting; the faces of large men in filthy ball caps and strained suspenders turned to size me up as I walked in the door. I took a seat at the counter, drank several white cups of black coffee, and wolfed down a fantastic, bulging omelet served up by doe-eyed small town teen angels looking so tired and weary in their matching polo shirts.
Now sitting in a tiny snow covered airport in the North. Everyone is through the security check, and people are chatting quietly amongst themselves. I hear the words ‘shovel’ and driveway’ repeated often. The drinking fountain here smells of root beer, and the overly cheerful voices on the radio bounce and skitter across the stone foyer. My eyes burn from a lack of sleep. I’m dressed for comfort; heavy cargo trousers, multiple t-shirts, a new hat pushed back on my head, and the same Keens I’ve been wearing since the day I kissed A.D. The air crew tromps in tracking snow across the worn brick floor, and passengers drag their carry-on luggage wearily toward the flight line.
Later, at 30,000 feet, a dignified looking blonde woman cautions out the drinks. My tray table won’t go all the way down; it’s got a three-wheel motion to it. The sky outside my window is a ghostly pale blue soaked with hints of coral and gold, and I’m getting a high-pitched massage from the engine. The vibrations tickle my skeleton, and it feels like a tattoo gun humming and thrumming against my bones. I feel it in the arches of my feet, so I splay my toes and turn my ankles, cracking them one at a time.
I’m listening to ‘Sinnerman’ by 16 Horsepower and thinking, as I often do when I fly, about The End. What would it be like wake up the morning after feeling choked and utterly doomed, knowing you’d never draw breath again that wasn’t tainted by sulfur and bloody ash, and understanding suddenly that the skills you spent a lifetime learning will have very little to do with the ones required if you expect to survive from that moment on?
The cabin is old and worn; the seat in front of me is cracked and tattered. I take a few snapshots out the window and remember how much happier I am when I’m traveling. Crunching ice with a molar, I study the lens flare on the apex of the engine cowling and gnaw on my lip, savor the gentle sting as the skin shreds a little. Life while flying is all about patience, breathing, and not punching anyone in the back of the head. Crammed into a tiny seat with nowhere else to put my limbs, and the person in front of me decides to kick their seat all the way back. The droning of the engine will no doubt obscure the sound of my knees rupturing.
While eating a can of tuna at what I’m informed is our cruising altitude, I wonder if the fish this used to be could have ever dreamed that it would be chopped up, crammed into tiny tin coffin, only to be exhumed and devoured by a man rocketing high above.
The battery in my iPod is running low, we’re on our final approach.
“Thus, the pattern of my relationship was already prefigured; today as then I am solitary, because I know things, and must hint at things which other people do not know, and usually do not even want to know.” – Jung