Monday, January 14, 2008

seat 23b confessional

while i detest the lack of control, aeroplanes are integral to my life. i find the process unpleasant (turbulence is a reminder there are no safety cords), however, if the ultimate goal is to get to a wonderful new destination, then it is worth the clutching of some random passenger's forearm when the captain has turned on the 'fasten seat belt' sign. and a rather obvious metaphor for relationships.

i typically sit next to the non verbal neanderthals with excess body fat and very little awareness of their body space spilling over onto my shared arm rest (middle seat syndrome). however, i found myself wedged between two characters this past weekend on a flight back to louisville.

to my right was practicing lawyer, avoiding retirement. he was divorced, had children who were a joy, and a love for golf. he shared stories of a friend who lived outside phoenix where there were "garages" for light aircraft, and residents "drove" their planes down the widened streets to the local airfield.

to my left was a 71 year old retired physician and grandfather from persia. he told me he had escaped iran during the shah's reign to come to america for "a better life". he found himself living in the derelict war zone of the bronx, and questioned the sanity of his decision. he has survived prostate cancer and had open heart surgery in recent years. he now spends his time frequenting various casinos every month and makes his living as a "professional gambler" (he showed me his member's ID card).

unlike a hairdresser, or therapist, these people are unpaid and will never be seen again. their stories can be inspiring, grounding and humbling. releasing my own story at 30,000 feet and leaving it there will keep me braving the turbulence each time. and yes, another obvious metaphor for relationships.


mansuetude said...

releasing your story up there, what a great image.

I knew a kid in college who was almost a doctor, and he had fled the shah, and he lost all his credits. we used to study economics together.. people are full of wonder... your writing is so surprise oriented...thanks.

ALF said...

It is so interesting what we're willing to share with complete strangers on an airplane, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

As someone who actually makes an effort NOT to talk to people on the same flight as me I found this inspiring.

I have to make a solo flight to the UK later this year.. I will let you know how I get on.