Average Jane

Up in the Air

It does become a routine. The time you leave. The place you park. The line you pick. Security becomes a battle of wills between the avid traveler and the family on vacation. Empathy shifts from the guy in line with you to the TSA agent who, you know, has said 10,000 times that day, “Remove your shoes. Take your laptop out of its bag and put it in its own tray. Have your boarding pass ready.” What would have been a kitty litter box in a former life now holds my most valuable possessions. Shoes in the first bin (to begin putting on as soon as it comes through) with laptop bag, followed by laptop, followed by luggage. There is a strategy to everything.

Wheels up. The flight. A lull. The desperate desire to work thwarted by either the lack of wifi or the lack of caffeine. Those hours for me are typically spent sorting through emails, cleaning out my inbox, whittling it down to the 50MB permitted by our corporate policy. At some point, airlines look all forms of entertainment out of cross-country flights leaving me more time than I’d prefer to ponder all that I’m not getting done, all the emails stacking up in my inbox.  More time than I’d prefer to be thinking about the attractive married man sitting 10 rows ahead of me, the awkward single guy 5 rows back that was looking at me funny, the old lady next to me who is nice, I’m sure, but an impediment to direct bathroom access, the girl behind me whose pre-flight hyperventilation and commentary on impending death left me more angry at the sleep-inhibiting banter than the prospect of actual death on this flight, the crying kid in the back of the plane whose parents (couldn’t care less/are completely mortified)…

Then it’s wheels down. Blackberry first. Cell phone next. The flow of bold subject lines start to fill my day. Action items. Follow ups. “Would you mind…” “Could you please…” “If you have the time…”

And for all this… for all of this I am grateful. Up in the air. Speaks so much to where I am today, in life. The “I don’t know”-ness of being a young, single professional keeps all life decisions up in the air. Do I buy a bike? Do I get a cat? Do I make the effort to get settled in a life on the ground when in a moment, I could be off again?

For now, from 30,000ft I look down on a geometric pattern of land I have never understood, the puzzle of perfect plots carved out of a rainbow colored mass of land surely farmed by someone (but whom? and where on that earth do they live?). For now, I wait for the second round of complimentary beverages, the first round of which I always pretend to sleep through. For now, I fulfill the promise to get back to who I am, a writer, and take a break from what I’ve become, up in the air.


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  1. * Jessica:) says:

    YES! I’m so glad you’re writing again. And as for traveling, two of my personal rules: (1) never get in a security line behind a stroller, and (2) upon arrival at your seat, take the one measure that could make the flight *slightly* more comfortable (or less awful): put down the armrest. And put an elbow on it for good measure.

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 11 months ago

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