Travel Tunnel 2

I thought I had commercial airplanes pretty well-sussed, but today as I boarded the flight from sunny LAX to snowy Detroit, I discovered that I had a large set of red stains down my shirtfront. The last time I can remember eating anything red was the marinated tartar at the dinner with Kim et al. the night before, which means I have been sporting this old man’s stain for a whole day so far. I try mineral water and the napkins, but they are just shredding paper all over, as are the paper towels from the bathroom.

I ask the cheerful matronly stewardess at the back for a cloth. She hands my a can of club soda and says, “Fish around in the drawer next to the sink, you’ll find some maxi pads – that’s what I use when I have spilled something.” New one on me, but damned if she isn’t right – the boxes of maxi pads are right in the bathrooms – never thought of it, never having needed one in a hurry – it soaks up a lot of club soda, scrubs well, and doesn’t leave a trail of shredded paper behind. The stain soaks out and I rest my hand on hers as I leave the plane and she hits my shoulder in jest. So few of the airplane staff still have their humor and their humanity these days.
——
In the end, it’s a 30-hr extravaganza from Seoul to LAX to Detroit to Portland to home. Although I had business class across the Pacific, there’s business and then there’s business. And I had no business on the LA flight – 38th row and a full plane – so that by the 5th hour of that flight my bum was aching, along with my neck, hips and feet, and there was no position that those chairs and my body could find in common. The book on ‘who wrote Shakespeare’ had lost its allure, and I am again watching the clock and not living by my zen approach to the travel tunnel.

And God was testing my zen wa in any case – I run sweating through the airport to make my flight to Portland, and then we sit on the runway for more than an hour in line for getting de-iced, so we arrive at PWM way late (without my suitcase, so that’s another hour filling out a lost bag report) but by then the limo has gone, if it was ever there, so I engage a cab, and my new best friend Yusuf, here from Somalia for less than a year, drives me home at 45 mph, again I am clock-watching his digital clock on the dash as the hours slip away. Jusuf is wandering all over the whitened road, requiring me to stay fully awake to complete the transition from the colorful East to the monochrome of a Maine winter night.

I have him leave me out at the end of the driveway – it’s not plowed anyway – so I can drink in the cold air, say hello to Cammy and CB and mourn Dakota’s empty stall, before I trudge through the powdery snow to shower quietly and crawl in with my honey, testing Dr Kim’s proposition that the most intense pleasure comes from something leaving the body and finding it wanting – the most intense pleasure comes from shared love, inning and outing at the same time.

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