Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Love Airplane Food

I’ve rarely ever known happiness the way that I’ve known it on an airplane. My father was a pilot of sorts and being on an airplane was probably the only relaxed time I ever knew him. The most beautiful thing that I’ve ever seen is the clear blue sky above the clouds and the blinding sun shining on that entire white expanse. The most perfect idea of infinity is there and it never lasts long enough. The sun always goes down and the plane always has to land. I am choking, suffocated when being brought down to Earth. It is palatable.

But inside, before that, wrapped in the belly of the beast, this tiny little world floats over the real one, which spins around the greater one. From that distance everything is knowable and understandable and solvable and manageable.

I love everything about airplanes; the tiny loud bathrooms, the foolish seats, and the once-beautiful fight attendants. I especially love airplane food. I love the tiny compartments; their comforting warmth. The bite-size portions eaten over a bite-size Earth. Everything is just my size on an airplane. Everyone else is uncomfortable.

I have the memory of flying over a part of Italy in what amounted to a biplane in the days when you could still smoke everywhere. Even the airport security women, who checked your body wearing assault rifles and holding the leashes of German shepherds, smoked. I wrapped my arms around my knees and leaned into the window, only seeing the hilly beauty of the countryside every few miles through a break in the clouds. There is nothing in the world as pure as the clear Italian sun.

I stayed curled like that, motionless except for the smoke of the Marlboro curling around me until the Alitalia flight attendant told me to get my feet off the seat.

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