Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Chronicles of a Fashion Girl: Chapter 2

The Airplane Experience

"Excuse me, can I have another water bottle?"
"Didn't I just give you one?"
"What? No. I don't think so. No."
"But...you just said can I have 'another' water bottle."
"What? I didn't say that."
The flight attendant gives me a tight smile, reaching into her beverage compartment and handing me a tiny Dasani without a word.  We both glance at the pouch attached to the seat in front of me, bulging with about 5 empty water bottles.  Our eyes meet again, hers saying You little shit and mine saying Go ahead and call me on it. I dare you.
Five hours in the air with a rapidly approaching future of uncertainty does strange things to a person. I've become the JetBlue Water Hoarder...now that's a title I can own.
I'm jerked back to the present by a sudden hike in the volume of my headphones.  While the little screen on the back of the seat in front of me was quietly displaying Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter having one of their infamous squabbles, Sheldon's narcissistic prose is now blaring in my ear, threatening to burst something important.
I gape at the young girl sitting next to me with her elbow digging into the volume changer on my armrest.  How dare you? I'd say if she weren't passed out on her dinner tray, drooling out of the side of her mouth.  I look around at the other passengers like, Can you believe this?, which makes me realize the only people I have to empathize with me is a small family of Asians who are so intently focused on the soccer game playing on their screens that I don't think they're even aware they are in a plane.
"Yeah!" shouts the Asian man, beaming and laughing victoriously in his wife's direction, unaware (or boldly uncaring) that about 70% of the passengers are fast asleep.  This confirms my original assumption that he is not a stickler for the rules of plane etiquette.
Animals, I think to myself, scowling.  I'm surrounded by animals. 
Don't they know I'm going to New York by myself for the first time?  Don't they know that I'll be arriving in an unfamiliar city at 10 p.m. with a suitcase that weighs over half my body weight and three subway transfers?  Don't they know I'm about to move in with two people I've never met before?  Doesn't anyone care how thirsty I am?  Were there no brochures handed out before this flight?  Didn't anyone get an alert about this?
As I get out of my seat for the seventh time to stretch my legs, I think about how cruel it is that no one is catering to my every whim.  I've got a lazy teenager trying to rupture my eardrums (she's probably just pretending to be asleep.  This must have been her plan all along), a wild and unpredictable Asian man shouting obscenities across the row from me, and a flight attendant trying to dehydrate me out of here.  The entire world is against me.
Okay...it's probably not.  Probably, this happens to everyone when they fly.  Probably, this is considered a pretty average air experience.  But like I said before, I'm about to move to an unfamiliar city with unfamiliar people and I think that should allow me to be a little melodramatic and self-centered--at least for the time being.
I turn around and head back to my seat, having completed the entire 20 feet of walking space available.  I discreetly slip another Dasani into my back pocket.  The flight attendant eyes me from her seat in the corner, but what's she really going to do?
I take a deep breath, telling myself it's going to be okay.  I'll be out of here soon...
Yeah, and then you'll have to lug 65 pounds an hour out into the city in the middle of the night by yourself.  
I stare at my seat hopelessly; my teenage friend has somehow contorted her body to take up half of it, not an easy feat for someone who can't possibly weigh more than 83 pounds soaking wet.  I'm ready to scream, rip her hair out, stuff it down the Asian man's pants, and then tell the flight attendant to clean it up, when there is a small ding overhead.
"Attention: we are now in New York.  Local time is 9:54 p.m., temperature a nice 72 degrees.  Everyone put your seat belts on; we will be landing at JFK shortly."
I pause, turning my head to look out the window.  In that moment, the whole plane seemed to stand still.  Even the Asian man falls silent as almost every passenger miraculously wakes up, turns off their devices, closes their books, puts away their plane snacks, and stares out the little windows.  Black, white, old, young, rich, poor, confused, tired, excited, angry--we all become one and stare out the windows, allowing the city to bring us to life up here in this plane.  I slip into my seat unconsciously, hypnotized by the lights of possibility.
I hug the teenage girl next to me, give her a kiss on the cheek.  She returns this with a bright young look of elation; together, we are ready to take on the city.  There is a palpable sense of strength, courage, and mutual support radiating between us.  (This didn't actually happen.  I never once spoke to her.  But wouldn't that be a lovely ending? Instead it went something more like--)
"Excuse me.  Can I please have a water bottle?"

2 comments:

  1. Excellent. Well written and takes us into your head during this time of exciting change. Looking forward to more.

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  2. Very well written. I want to read more!

    ReplyDelete