One Last Ride

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When do you take the time to just look at someone? Have you watched how they move or the manner in their still moments? Sitting on the plane with nothing to do for three hours I notice. It’s like another ride at Disney, rows packed 3×3 on this aerial roller coaster.

I start when I turn to my right and see Mommy sitting across the aisle. Her profile eclipses the sunlight from the window, her features hidden in shadow. With a gentle breath rising and falling in her chest she seems relaxed despite frenzied fingers clicking away at the keyboard and intent eyes flitting around some spreadsheet and then off to another email like chickadees twittering between feeders in the springtime. Then, another gentle breath.

The woman on my right sits neatly. With with one delicate hand draped over her elbow and resting under the weight of a precious little engagement ring and it’s enormous diamond, she picks at half a sandwich and a bottle of spring water. Her sharply dressed mother poses fashionably in the seat next to her, with the slightly gaudier and brassier jewelry I think I see more often on older women, well manicured finger tips folded comfortably in her lap and a seemingly decapitated head cocked back in the corner between the window and the headrest, mouth agape in a most unflattering way as she sleeps. They have matching handbags. That’s cute. They won’t be able to identify me in the crowd as we exit the gate on arrival.

As the co-pilot makes another unintelligible announcement from the flight deck I see my boys are blissfully unaware of anything outside the pixelated worlds of their iPads. Rambunctious elbows jostle for precious real estate in their cramped seats. Crowned with headphones, the tops of their heads bob to the rhythm their fingers tap out on the screen.

Another burst of excitement at the keyboard draws my attention back to their mother.  Her fingertips now ablaze with who knows what, I don’t.

The senior couple sharing the window seat next to her brought nice thick paperbacks to entertain themselves in flight. His leathery hand reaches over to press it’s weight on her knee. Her left rests on his while she pets his hairy forearm with the other. That’s her nervous tell – She confesses to be a little anxious about flying. As the plane gently banks a gentle turn to starboard, the setting sun’s light floods through their window once more casting all three of them in brilliantly trimmed silhouette.

“Oh!” Suddenly alert now, the mother-daughter duo have come to life as they try to contain rivulets of ice water the bride-to-be just knocked across her tray table and onto our seats. “I’m so sorry”, she bleats as I brush what I can off my jeans and hand her some crumpled napkins from the seat-back pocket. “I’m really sorry….” She repeats as I offer my plastic sandwich bag to stash the damp trash. Maybe they’ll remember me now? As she bumps me with her hip turning to help her mother, I doubt it….

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