NW616, 7A

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


4 thoughts on “NW616, 7A

  1. Why is it that your blog layout is so much better than mine?? I like the graffiti you’ve used — was that taken in Brisbane when you visited?I enjoy flying too, and it has been a whole five years since I’ve been anywhere substantial i.e. Europe. I miss it — Europe, not the 30 hour plane flight!I’ve always wondered how someone of your stature survives on planes. I can even fly a reputable airline with extra legroom and, at 5’4″, I find myself wondering what unbidden delights DVT would offer. What it would feel like to have clots develop throughout your body and haemorrhage (I don’t BELIEVE I could actually spell that first go). Some people worry about terrorism. I worry only of the DVT.And claustrophobia. Which I get in waves.I am happy that your journey offered such delights as doe eyed teen angels…although I’m yet to meet a teen these days who could qualify for such a saintly title 😉I’m happy that your experience at the end of the flight was so enjoyable and rewarding.

  2. This sounds the one in Eureka, California. One gate, from which you walk twenty feet across the tarmac to a puddle jumper. The single baggage claim is in the same room, on an adjacent wall, and it’s all of three minutes before the bags start rotating by. The two car rental windows are on the opposite wall. There are big signs at the “security check” warning that this is a federally-operated facility and possession of items which are not legal under federal law may get you arrested and turned over to local law enforcement. Translation: leave your marijuana at home, stupid, but don’t worry — if the feds bust you, they’ll turn you over to the Humboldt county cops, who will nod sternly during the handoff and then let you go.

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