Wednesday, June 6, 2012

fly with me

Yes, I know it's not polite to take pictures of strangers without their permission.  But, what can I say?  I am fascinated by culture and facial expressions, fashion choices and personality.  Those little moments that make up a big moment pass by so quickly.

I don't want to miss out on the story.

Since meeting my husband, I have logged hundreds of air miles flying between states, and international travel.  He and I had a long-distance "dating" relationship, so terminals and baggage claims became familiar territory.  For the eleven months prior to saying our vows, airports were the source of blissful expectation and gut-wrenching goodbyes.  Thankfully, we lived in a pre-9/11 world, and could sit with each other until the final boarding call.  Chris used to hold me in his arms and sing softly in my ear. Thousands of tears were shed that year.  Pining is not for the weak.

Like parents with multiple kids, there does come a time where the way you coddled the first child becomes a thing of the past with your third.  Same with flying.  Chris and I often take solo trips now.  While living in Washington, he made several commutes to California for work, and to visit his dying father.  He takes trips now for church conventions, and occasionally we fly together to San Francisco to visit the extended Holowaty family or to Orange County to visit his godson. Mostly, I fly to Seattle by myself.

One of life's delights for me is meeting people on airplanes.

Rarely do you know who you will be sat next to.  I'm the one who pops her head up like a gopher to see who's eyeing the row she's sitting in.  Over the years, I have met businessmen and women, puking children, karaoke singers, scientists, honeymooners, students, musicians, and the like.  I'm not one who chats it up the whole flight, just enough conversation to be comfortable with the person I might be sharing a flotation device with "in the unlikely event..."

Last week, I made one of my semiannual visits to Seatown.  Now that there are no longer direct flights to the west coast, I have to take a total of four planes round-trip.  That's four opportunities to make a new Facebook friend.

On the first flight, I sat next to an international dog show judge named Ron Hilliard.  He and his wife used to work the dog show circuit together, until a muscle disease crippled her.  Apparently, you can't be a judge if you walk with a cane.  And yes, he has seen the Christopher Guest mockumentary, Best in Show.  On the second flight, I met a hipster couple who brought their pet spaniel on-board. He read Time magazine, while she drew pictures in charcoal and colored pencils.  Flight number three had me seated next to an old Asian couple.  She had back troubles and must have shifted in her chair and across her husband's lap a dozen times.  They were so sweet, and spent half an hour telling me (in broken English) their natural remedies for allergies (raw garlic & honey anyone?).  The final flight was late in the evening and I was tired, so I opted for reading my People magazine and watching overpriced airline television.  For sure the middle-aged couple who shared my row was Eastern European (such distinct features).  He played Sudoku while she read a romance novel, and they shared a hard salami & cheese sandwich that was smelled before seen.  I enjoyed listening to them talk to each other in a language I didn't understand.

Come fly with me.

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