There is turbulence and the air inside my mask is sour. I’ve been enroute since 6:00 a.m. and it is now 3:30. We are flying in cotton suspended somewhere west of Houston after a three-hour layover during which I ate my sandwich, an apple, an orange, and a nut bar, all the while lusting for a tall beer and a plate of fries.
You don’t get to drink during the day even if the day has been fraught, I tell myself, so I filled up my water bottle at a station that told me how many plastic bottles were being saved but dispensed warm water. Swell, I get to drink warm water in my quarantined seat miles from everyone else while people well-adjusted to taking their life in their hands by flying during a pandemic are chatting at the bar and wiping their mouths with their sweatshirt sleeves.
I used to be one of them before I started wearing this hair shirt.
Without telling me first, my husband made arrangements for me to fly to California to see our daughter and her family. He likes doing stuff like this – surprises for birthdays, which is what this was, long ramp-ups to Christmas presents, weeks of hints and misleading innuendo so one firmly believes one is getting a dog but instead gets a necklace. Just a few days ago while I was going through yet another box of ‘keepsakes’ from the attic, I found a two-page birthday poem he’d written thirty years ago which would clearly lead one to believe he’d bought me a new chair but I remember no such chair. It was probably a book or a car. God only knows.
His gift shenanigans aside, he clearly means to push me out of the nest. That’s what this solo trip is about. He thinks I’ve gotten too comfortable with my long-suffering, hair shirt-wearing self. And that I need to bust out, remember how to get on a plane and go somewhere by myself, you know, like a grown-up, llike a person in the world. I get it. My dad threw me off the end of the dock so I would learn how to swim, so you could say I’ve had experience with not having my fears indulged by important men in my life.
There seems to be just a snippet of blue sky on the horizon. Maybe the clouds will clear and I can see some oif the earth from up here. Seeing the desert or mountains or farms or whatever they have down there would be lovely, hypnotizing. That would be good. I’m not going to drown up here.