A Short Story about Two Long Flights

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Leio McLaren on Unsplash

I traveled last week to visit my cousin and her family in Baltimore, Maryland. Spending time with family was important for me, because I adore my cousin and her family. She and her husband are terrific parents to five incredible children, whom I have been missing ever since I got back, and more than that, they are good people. I feel blessed to have such family. (Perhaps, for me as an avowed atheist, a better word is lucky.)

Flying from Denver, the trip lasted just a little more than three hours, and coming back took closer to four hours. I flew back home last Tuesday (and boy, are my arms tired!) and I’m still trying to catch my breath a little bit.

First of all, I’d like to give a huge shout out to all the TSA agents, some of whom are working for no or little pay during this record government shutdown, yet all were unfailingly friendly and helpful. The smooth running of Denver International Airport, one of the largest in the United States, takes many dedicated and hard-working people, and I am grateful to them as well.

While my experience in the airport itself was pleasant, it is a different situation when I am in the plane. I never feel fatter than when I travel by plane. The seats are small, and I can no longer put down the tray table without it painfully jabbing me in the stomach on a continuous basis. I am not bashful about asking for a seat belt extender if needed, however, I had no trouble on this trip buckling myself in — I managed to have just enough belt. On both flights, I sat in the middle seat, but only on the way back did I also sit by another heavy person. He wasn’t simply heavy, he was also tall, and together we were both uncomfortably scrunched, trying not to touch or encroach too much on each other millimeters of personal space … for four hours.

On the plus side, no pun intend, for me, both trips were conversation-free, blissfully quiet and wonderful boring. Not being a naturally social animal, I could read, and although I brought my knitting along, I found the space too restrictive to knit. Of course what is heavenly silence for one person is hella uncomfortable for another. My husband would consider it a very nice flight when he can converse with a fellow passenger, get to know something new or gain a new perspective on any topic.

Both ways getting on and off the plane, I walked by the business/upgrade section, and though I have tried not to look, I still managed to glimpse a large person here and there, being much, much more comfortable. I felt sharp pangs of envy. I knew I shouldn’t be indulging in such feelings, because my flight was ridiculously cheap. Yet I thought that if I could have spent more money, and be much more at ease, perhaps next time I should take an opportunity for a long flight. I have had these thoughts before, but when I check on these seats, the cost is often twice as much as economy, so I endure the squished accommodations.

But even with my first-world problem of cramped seating, I remind myself that I traveled there and back with the help of the miracle of flight, like a goddess or a superhero. So, considering the modern wonder of hurtling through the air above the clouds in flying machine at hundreds of miles per hour, it would be a disservice for me to complain.

And now, safe and cozy home, I think about my plane trips, and, in the words of my husband, “am already idealizing them in my mind.”

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