On the plane from Lihue to LAX I put my blind fold on, my ear plugs in and try to sleep. I’m on a red eye flight. I try not to do red eyes since I’m getting older-ish. My body doesn’t rally the way it used to. The plane is, 3 rows on one side and 3 on the other. The plane is full and there are a lot of young kids. Delta Air keeps the air cold in the cabin. I’ve learned this through being one of their frequent Delta fliers. I like loyalty. It’s a sign to me that I’m grounded. I own a home, a car and I like consistency. It makes me feel like I’ve grown. On my flight from Amsterdam to Portland in July 2012 a male flight attendant, a veteran flight attendant, in his mid-50’s, bald, tall and lean, gave me and my seat mate in the exit row two blankets each.
“Those things are so thin two doesn’t really do the job,” he told us. He was friendly and made jokes before take off. It was a little like being in first class. He gave us extra snacks and me an entire can of Coke instead of the measly 6 ounces I usually got on other flights. The plane ride went fast since we had our own personal tvs built into the arm rest. I brought a book but hardly read it. I watched four movies on that 9 hour flight.
Back on the overcrowded Lihue to LAX flight I sleep maybe an hour. I’m not a napper or a sleeper. Early, the babbling, little kids gave way to the flight attendants making announcements and then the pilot telling us about our tailwind getting us in almost an hour ahead of schedule. I’ve brought my down, Mountain Hardware coat but with the one blanket and pillow it doesn’t do much good. I keep the blanket in the plastic casing and use it as a pillow. I’m in leggings, tank top and hoody. I’m still in Hawaii clothing and I’m cold. The sunburn on my shoulders, arms and legs is keeping me a little warm. My seatmate is a burly Midwest guy. We keep the seat rest up. Normally, I would put it down. I like separation. I need my space. I don’t care this time. I need this guy to help keep me warm even though we never touch skin to skin or clothing to clothing.
I try and sleep but I’m thinking about the second date I went on with “J”. He’s five years older, his sister is adopted from Korea too, and it feels like we’re on equal footing with home ownership and careers. I’m hopeful. After spending a considerable amount of time thinking about our dinner with “J” at a Japanese ramen house where we ate mostly Korean food, biking to his house, and playing ping pong the previous Saturday my thoughts drift to my family trip and my two year old niece. I replay her announcing “Hi Kelly!” Whenever I entered a room in our condo in Hawaii. Or “Hi mommy! Hi daddy! Hi Nonna (gramma).” My niece is social like my sister was at a young age. My sister was not afraid to say hi to other kids on the playground or in the arcade areas at local pizza places. Neither is my niece. I was the opposite. I clung to my mom like white on rice. I didn’t talk to other kids unless they approached me. If adults talked to me I needed my mom to be the buffer. I wanted to be that social kid who was fearless but never was.
After waking up I pull my earplugs out and my blindfold off three hours into the four hour and twenty minute flight. I’m not sleeping anymore. There’s a kid behind me crying and babbling. I keep my coat on my lap and blanket in the package. Sometimes I’m weird about germs. I wonder who has used the blanket before me? Was it washed? How was it washed? I’m in a weird wired tired phase. I want to be home sleeping. Not in this weird time vortex. I pull my cell phone out of my handbag. It’s dark but my seat mate is playing a game on his cell phone. I turn my phone on and put it in airplane mode. It reads 1:47 Hawaii time and 3:47 pacific time.
My throats dry and I need some water. I missed my complementary six ounce Coke when the cart came around but I probably would have stuck with water. The pilot comes on five minutes later and tells us our flight is 162 miles off the California coast. “Praise god and baby Jesus in a tuxedo t-shirt,” I say to myself. When we get to LAX all I’m hoping for is a giant cup of coffee. And water before my connecting flight to Portland.