According to my Fitbit, I slept for three hours and ten minutes. It took me ages to get to sleep. I had my room arranged for immediate exit, which is just as well considering I slept through my first two alarms. The emergency one pulled me from deep sleep at 4.27am. I was throwing my clothes on ten seconds later and checked out of the hotel within about eight minutes, but still under a cloud as I was the last one down and made to feel it.
Travel days in groups are always stressful and this one is probably the worst of this tour in terms of hours. 2100 miles or so, with a connecting flight in Charlotte. I was flying on my own lots when I was 8, so I’m pretty chilled about the process. Show up. Do what you can. Recognise that everybody wants you there earlier than you’re needed. Once you’re checked in you’re in. Once your bag is checked your doubly in.
I used to resent the solicitous people who are assigned to “unaccompanied minors”. “I’m fine on my own,” I’d tell them. They’d continue to patronise me. But this is me solo. When you have to move a group you have to move as a group. And I was 5 minutes late for rendezvous so it’s likely the people who weren’t late were aware of every second.
We all made it in fucktons of time, had our flight been leaving when it was supposed to. The slightly tense mood soured considerably when the 6.25am flight we had all got up so early for was delayed until 10am.
We finally made it to Charlotte without killing each other. Lots of sniping from tired people who love each other. The little things magnify. Now I’m in the air somewhere between Virginia and Massachusetts. I’m in a middle seat, and the woman in front of me has put her chair all the way back. She’s right at the front of her section, so has loads of legroom. I reckon she’s the only person on the whole flight who has done it, as it requires a level of selfishness that’s off the scale. Sometimes it causes dominoes, but I often feel it’s my duty to break minor patterns of bad karma. Plus Katherine is behind me and I’m not going to do it to her.
I had my Notre Dame water flask in the pouch in front of me and she must’ve felt the lump and pushed against it so hard that she’s actually shattered it. The first I knew was when I felt water on my leg. I’m shocked. I saw her put her feet up on the section break in front of her so she could push against it. At the time I had no idea what she was doing. It was a pretty robust plastic flask and it’s totally smashed.
I hate her, this spread out aggressive plane lady. She will probably never know the extent of my hatred for her, and she certainly wouldn’t care if she did. But I’m wishing all sorts of creative and unpleasant nastinesses on her and I’ll probably never say a word to her my whole life. As I said, though, little things magnify. Right now it’s hard not to think of her, with these big blokes either side of me and with her chair in my face and on my legs. Because of her I’ve got no room at all, my flask is broken, and my legs and my passport and my Visa are all drenched.
She’s reading a fecking Mills and Boon by the look of it or some other complete snot. “The semi sweet hereafter.” This photo is basically the view I’m left with as I try to put up with her space invasion. As for my legs, don’t even talk about them. It’s like I’ve got none anymore.
The Semi Sweet hereafter, chapter 1.
Al was angry when he first looked at her. His Spanish eyes flashed with fiery distaste. She had taken up space he wanted. She had broken his flask. How could he have known, back then on that airplane in Boston, that before Christmas she would break his heart?
All Melinda had wanted was freedom. Trapped in this airplane, just like she was trapped in her loveless marriage. She had kicked out in the plane like she never had at home. She had wiggled and squirmed, arms and legs flying in an explosion of frustration. Now, in the aisle, this man was looking at her, water dripping down his pants. What was that expression in his dark eyes? Was it passion? Was it hatred? Was it lust? She couldn’t remember the last time her husband John had looked at her like any of the three. Maybe he never had. Apart from once, that balmy night on The Rio Grande. But now on this airplane in Boston, clutching a broken flask, this roughshod looking man was staring – staring wordlessly into her eyes. His lips moved. Was it love at first sight? Did he feel it too? Where could they run that would be far enough from John and his international detective agency? His words came tumbling from his lips in the bustle of disembarkation. “You selfish bugger. You stupid sad mean motherfucking bastard of a human being. Rot in hell.” he said, rolling each word.
“I just want freedom,” she responded. “Space to be myself!”
“Well, you can start by looking outside yourself enough to notice that you’re not the only person with needs, you fucking catastrophe. It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from – listen. Be aware. Think. The world is crowded. Look at the crowds as people, not obstructions you fucking sorry excuse for a human being. Know when you are doing things that hurt other people. Know, and know why. Until you can have that basic awareness you’re nothing but a parasitic vegetable.”
I’d never be a Mills and Boon writer. I could try. It wouldn’t sell.
He reached over with his big manly hand and hit publish.