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Archive for the ‘Cerebral Buffet’ Category

 inflight31

I’ve done a fair amount of traveling in the last three or four years – – boarding plane after plane taking me here, there and yonder.  The UK has been my destination on a frequent basis due to matters of the heart, and it has, thus, become a land very close to my heart in many ways.   It has been on these 8-9 hour flights to and from the UK where I have become a Professional Air Traveler – – earning my stripes and going through the motions of passenger life like a well-oiled blonde-haired, blue-eyed fem-bot.  I know Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International airport like the back of my hand.  Concourse E  I could possibly navigate through blind-folded at this point.

And then there are my pre-flight rituals.  Book?  Check.  Spare Book?  Check.  Currency exchanged to GBP?  Check.  Snacks and water?  Check.  Re-confirming I have my passport 5 times between my house and handing it to Delta personnel at the gate?  Check, check, check, check, check.  I walk onto the plane efficiently,  and given my Zone 2 status as a Delta medallion member, I can easily put my carry-on luggage directly overhead without having to worry that it will have to be stowed away from me.  I arrange my travel station around my seat like a soldier preparing for battle he has trained for repeatedly.  I remember once being on a flight and my seatmate was silently watching me arrange my area with my no-nonsense efficiency which is second nature to me now and he said, “You’ve done this before, haven’t you?”  I laughed and said “What gave you that idea?”

Who you sit by on a trans-Atlantic flight is always a bit of potluck.  I’ve sat by such a large variety of people – – British and American mostly, obviously.  I am sometimes greeted with a warm smile and some small talk as they sit down.  Other times, their face is cold and closed, and I immediately know that my book will be my silent companion for the duration of that flight.  When a person sits down next to me, I always immediately wonder about their story.  Sometimes I find out some of it, sometimes I don’t – – it depends on their mood and my mood at the time of the flight.   I once sat next to a British chap who spent the entire flight talking about his love of paragliding – – explaining in great detail about how he had to learn to read the winds to become good at this popular UK sport.  Everytime I see a paraglider now, I think of him, and wonder if he’s still enjoying his job at the bank and living with his girlfriend in Kent. 

Another time, I sat beside a man whose final destination was Italy, where he would be racing his Yacht in some big event – – he was a retired airline pilot and his excitement about the upcoming race was palpable.

I’ve sat beside families going to Disney World (the Brits LOVE Disney World – – I don’t get it – – they have ACTUAL castles there in the UK.  The real deal.  But they want to see our fake castles in an amusement park?  😉 ), soldiers, British Expats, American Expats, a woman going to see her dying mother,  a woman who spoke no English but clutched her purse on her lap for the ENTIRE flight and looked scared out of her mind, a man who had a daughter about my age and shared her college stories with me, and once, a priest.

We sit together for those 8 or 9 hours – – – together, but apart.  Sometimes, it’s almost like a confessional – – because you can talk about some pretty deep topics but never even know their name and the likelihood of ever seeing them again is about 1 in a billion.   Being on a plane, is like being nowhere and everywhere at the same time.  You are between worlds – – neither here nor there.  Above all the hustle and bustle you sit – – in your own world, with a stranger sitting beside you that you now know snores, or moves their lips when they read….and orders apple juice everytime the drink cart makes it’s way around again.  These are things that a spouse should know – – or a mother.  Not me – – someone who doesn’t even know this person’s name or shoe size.

But there we are – – resting in the place between places, thinking about where we’ve been, and what we will face when we get where we’re going.  We eat our tasteless airline food and wipe our airline-supplied wetnaps across our temples – comrads in the battle that is air travel.  We stare into the dimly lit cabin, yawning and wondering when someone is going to finally invent an Astral Projection Machine that actually WORKS.

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Cup of Comfort

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Ever since I have been visiting my Aunt Ginger as an adult, she has represented a soothing nook away from the rest of the world where I can heal my battle wounds, get sage advice when I’m at a loss as to what to do next with whatever dramatic predicament I find myself in at that moment, and just talk.  Talk about men, and art, and work – talk about my pseudo-deep-thoughts and, when I’m having moments of clarity, my really-deep-thoughts – and generally just open up my heart to someone who never judges me and always seems to understand me when others don’t.  She has shown me through the years, as I make choice after choice that take me further and further away from the conventional life I’d thought I was going to have at the age of 22, that there’s nothing wrong with being different…that there’s something very *right* with it, actually.  She shows me through her example and through her unconditional love and acceptance.

 

I can’t think of a time that I have gone to her home and wasn’t given a cup of tea to accompany our talks.  Sometimes the tea comes at the beginning of the visit if it’s a short one, sometimes at the end of a long dinner visit – – but the tea is always there.  Comfort in liquid form. 

 

The process of preparing the tea is one I adore.  First, we make the decision of which tea we want to make.  She has a sea of choices – decadent names and smells emanating from the boxes and canisters from which they reside.  We look at the colorful boxes, picking some up and smelling them, and then generally go with what feels right in that moment.  And she begins boiling the kettle of water for the teapot.

 

Then she tells me to choose the cup I want.  This is the most exciting part of the ritual – because my aunt’s teacup collection is unsurpassed.  They sit atop the shelves in a rainbow of delicate loveliness, beckoning you to “pick me!”…”No, no…pick me!”.  It’s a curious thing, choosing a teacup.  Because it shows you so much about your mood in that moment – – which cup pulls you forward to select it amongst the rest often is a mirror of your disposition that day.  Will it be the radiant red one that speaks of a fiery spirit….or a delicate milky blue with achingly intricate patterns of flowers adorning it which speaks of fragility?  In some way, I think we choose the cup which speaks of the part of ourselves that needs the most attention or salve that day.

 

With cups chosen, she fills the teapot with boiling water, and lets the tea steep until it reaches its perfect tone of honey brown, and we take it into the living room on a tray to refill our cups to our heart’s content as we talk.

 

And as we talk, and the tea warms my bones and soothes my soul, I begin to feel steadied again…so that I can soon return to my confusing little world and stay strong and resilient in my efforts to continue to remain true to myself.

 

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