So I tried to write a long stream-of-consciousness poem-like thing. I did not work. I am not Ron Silliman or probably James Joyce either. Although I feel sure if I rewrote DELTA a few more tens of times it could get close. It seems like sacrificing a week of my vaca to do that would not be wise use of my time. However I’ve decided to post it anyway because it does pretty much describe the trip over.
Here I am, Albuquerque airport, easy TSA check-in, an advantage of old and early, wine and chips with queso, warm cheese that gets skin on top so a little off-putting but the only small thing to order, feel myself sliding into travel mode, leaving on a jet plane and all that, a wave of travel love is spreading through my veins or maybe that’s the Pino Grigio, do men all over the world live in ugly baggy shorts like American men, see the waiters—slow-moving, stocky impassive Native American, fake-perky tired-looking 45-year-old sick of her job, eager young woman with Down Syndrome—half a waiting lounge full of elderly couples on a Sun Tours adventure, I AM NOT THEM, no matchy-matchy pants suit outfit for me…and Hillary should stop wearing them too unless all those trips to 120 countries were just the high end of giant Sun Tour-like events, black REI things and a backpack will get ME around the world, pretending I’m younger than them which in spirit might be true, one woman says “my son lives with me you know, he’s in his 50s, he has a hard time with jobs,” “Oh my” says the other, what if I had a husband with me, would I like that, I suppose not, years ago I had a 60-year-old lover named Ralph and his thin almost-delicate skin felt unnatural, odd, now I’m older than that and you can practically see through my skin. The horror of contemporary flying, used to love it no matter how uncomfortable—it was adventure, now it’s a cattle call for the claustrophobic and me, only a row away from the loud full-of-himself clown and next to the covey consuming fermented cabbage (made that last thing up) on this A330.
Leaving Minneapolis to spend seven hours and thirty-three minutes in a full plane, seatmate is slim and silent, yes yes yes, big young guy in front of me turns around, ‘Do you mind if I put my seat back a little?’ I love him, “‘Remove the vest from the container as you leave the plane (before you jump off the tilting wing?—maybe I heard that wrong), activate the oxygen mask by pulling down on the cord and…, make sure your seat is in the full upright position,” lights dim, people in summer shirts, I’m pulling out my jackets and have put on tights under stretchy—but not lavender polyester—pants, red soft blanket for protection against all the inane crap emitted from the many little glowing screens up and down the aisle, Nook bulging with Russian literature and Swedish murder, no Knausgaard 4th volume until Norway, rudely awakened after take-off doze with bright lights and dinner advancing slowly down the aisle, Manicotti, ugh, big 10pm meal, unhealthy late night mess of plastic and crinkly cracker coverings and warm lettuce and margarine for god’s sake and no space and so the tomato sauce-smeared knife falls on a new jacket, but we’re used to it and look forward to the ‘event’ that is the meal, once I had a superior meal on South African Airways and 30 years ago Air France had tasty items including real baguettes, the voice says “all passengers will receive a complimentary bottle of water,” wow the generosity of it all, “we’re delighted you could join us here at Delta,” use the bathroom before take-off when it’s briefly clean, take drowsy pill, I’ve never been afraid of flying but sometimes the disappeared Malaysian plane comes to mind and I wonder what it feels like to go down down down, the announcing voice says “if you see a pilot walk down the aisle know that we will always still have a full complement of pilots in the cockpit,” no suiciding on Delta, wonder how long it’ll be before guns will be allowed on planes, surely the NRA is lobbying for that, it will be so good to know the angry-looking guy on his third whiskey arguing with the flight attendant is carrying or is that packing or packing heat or is that ‘has a permit for concealed carry,’ love Wayne’s language.
Saw a man sitting in the Minneapolis airport lounge brushing his teeth, honestly, do you swallow the toothpaste or what, how does that work, I AM GOING AROUND THE WORLD, there, up in first class just through that beaded curtain the ‘waiter’ is serving little pretties and champagne, back here we are just looking forward to that free water. Monday now isn’t it? Soon we will land but not before the morning’s cold leathery croissant has landed on our trays, there is Greek yogurt though, the world’s go-to foodstuff, thank you Mercury—patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages/communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; also the guide of souls to the underworld—for yogurt, slept and read from Nook, not so bad, wrapped in my jackets and blanket, rocked to sleep by Airbus.
2:35pm, Amsterdam to Oslo, Norwegians are more light brown than blonde aren’t they/we, the Pole and Swedes and Russians seem blonder, why is that? Do Norwegians spend more time in the sun, bleach their hair more? One row back three hefty Scandinavian-looking Americans (Wisconsin is mentioned) are talking about dairy farming on the land inherited from great-great-grandfather, 60 head of cattle, “actually pampered” he says “not like those ‘happy California cows’ in the TV ads that have nothing but dead brown grass stalks to munch on.” Hearty laughter.
In Oslo. Wish I had seen Karl Ove Knausgaard at the airport.