The Miracle of Return

Time to fly home. Twenty eight years of lifting off from LAX, 2 or 3 times each year, you would think it would be routine by now.

In one way, it has actually got better. Having printed my boarding pass at home, I find myself only third inline to check my bag – my one bag, which cost an extra $20 + tax. The pull handle on my suitcase has taken the opportunity to lock down, so that it has to be towed from a crouching posture, but I have help schlepping it, up and onto the scale and back to the X-ray machine.

“Next stop, there where the sun is shining on the green plants,” sings out the x-ray guy.

That, of course, is the farewell spot, a narrow gate, guarded by a familiar dragon who does the second of six boarding pass and ID checks. I make for the escalator with tears on my face. Once upon a time, my Children, farewellers could go with you through security and share a farewell coffee.

There is no line at security either and it is an exciting challenge to fill 3 plastic tubs, about the size of kitty litter pans while standing on one foot. I persist in wearing lace-up low boots. It seems like defiance: I will be darned if I’ll lower my fashion standard. As if. Finally, I have much of my clothing -the guard kindly lets me keep my cardigan on – and all my possessions, some of which, I value dearly, into the trays. The nice surprise is that I do not get “wanded”, patted down nor given a full-body scan. We must not be in an Orange alert. Or maybe my number didn’t come up. Septuagenarian women are, of course, notorious hotheads given to radicalism and acts of terror.

You get used to these absurd assumptions and things really aren’t worse than the good old days. In 1971, my 10 year-old daughter was “wanded” and patted down under the eagle eye of a soldier in camouflage holding a sub-machine gun at the ready. This was in peace-loving Switzerland.

And in those days, there always seemed to be a plane crash in the news. I used to invoke angels to get us off the ground and help us back down. Now I’m usually half asleep. Airlines seem to have learned how to build and fly planes that stay in the air until time and place dictate descent.

With notable exceptions!

It is true that I no longer have the luxury of complaining about the quality of my pre-ordered special meal. I can buy a reheated pepperoni pizza or a sub sandwich from the vending cart: credit cards only, please, but most of us buy our lunch and our water before we board the plane. Starbuck’s smoked turkey and cheddar on multigrain bread turns out to be edible, but not much more. I expected stuffing, cranberry jelly.

My individual entertainment screen is not working. My seat, I am told, should not have been sold. I can move into the middle seat instead. The window guy and I look at each other. We prefer to keep a civilized distance. I do tap its screen so that I can follow our journey on the map and see what towns we are passing over. The captain announces then that we are presently over the Grand Canyon.

And so, another return. There have been returns from weddings and divorces and new babies and new houses and plenty from just ordinary family life. This is a return from what I called in an earlier post a fortunate fall. (See, a return after great shock and fear and grief and then great joy and renewal of love. Rebirth. A chance to start again differently.

Yes, there are still miracles.


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