Air Canada 791 leaves Toronto at 8 a.m. On a Tuesday, it is usually quiet. Today, the third cabin, with its excellent access to emergency exits, is all but empty. I have 32 H, J and K to myself. A little more sleep. I got up at 3:30 a.m.
A youngish blonde woman (to me that could be mid 40s) with a black, long-haired boa sits in front of me. A young couple with a new baby and a toddler, behind me. The baby begins to cry and the toddler joins shriekingly in.
I can do this.
Been a mother. Been a grandmother. Been a great aunt. Am a great, great aunt. Am a great grandmother. I’m not one of those! You know who you are – complaining to the steward and changing seats.
Or maybe not.
Earbuds. What will drown out those excruciating high notes? Let’s see Bruce Springsteen? The Stones? Glass’s Kundun? Gould’s Goldberg Concerto? Various Artists: a Special Christmas? WHAAAAAT? Ok. Nicola Benedetti: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.
I fall asleep, head full of symphonic music and wake, drooling and head lolling. To peace. The kids are asleep.
So, let’s get comfy. Put up all the arm rests, undo the seat belt, lie down, with purse as pillow and cover legs with a purloined blanket.
Two hours to go.
I wake as I woke once at Camping Krioneri on the Gulf of Corinth to the braying of a donkey. I lie contemplating this latest upgrade to the Boeing 787-9.
Listen, I can deal with this. I’ll just sink back into delicious unconsciousness where I don’t remember the pain and trouble waiting down there in Lotus Land – the on-going battle with the American health care system as it strives to diagnose a rare disease in someone I love and since it bankrupted them long ago, figure out how to provide treatment ASAP.
But no. The new arrival has the loudest laugh known to sound engineers. She’s in an excellent mood. So funny that my silent blonde neighbor laughs ever more loudly. The new arrival does physical humor too, standing and twerking, then demonstrating the proper way to seat oneself for dressage. Or so I imagine. The seat back threatens to land on my head.
I sit up. I bring Nicola back up on the device -set to Airplane mode, of course.
What in heaven’s name is this laughing woman taking? Something more than our recently legal Canadian marijuana surely.
But, at least for now, it’s only that dreadful boxed white wine they serve up here. She asks the male attendant at the beverage cart if the female attendant is his work wife. He pretends to blush. She invites him to her daughter’s wedding in Palm Springs. A hundred guests are coming.
In fact, I saw the bride schlepping a head high white garment bag, looking grim as brides do.
I remember that. Happy days. My girl’s wedding was in Vegas. The bride wasn’t grim until the city turned off the water to our rental house as she was getting ready. It was the last day of 2008, an auspicious time to get married.
Fortunately, I do not remember that someone from Texas brought in one of the first cases of H1N1 and we all spent January bedridden with flu.
Packed in that enormous bag of memory, 8 decades worth, I find a toddler sorting out a cupboard, every pan on the tiny kitchen floor, shrieking in joy at her newborn brother while she throws the newly folded pile of cloth diapers everywhere, a preteen glancing up as she realizes he has outgrown her, a mother in a skimpy nightgown nursing a baby on a floor futon in Venice Beach. Seventy flights like this, most of them on AC 791. Never crashed once. Be there soon, Baby.
Coming into Los Anglees/ Bringing in a couple of keys/Don’t touch my bag if you pease/Mr Customs Man