Returning to Seattle from Lucca, 2022
Post #6 of 6 by Theresa Elliott
This is my second sighting of the preening female archetype in a few short days. The previous one was a bleached bottle blonde with long artificial nails that she used to incessantly comb through her tousled mane. She was conspicuously seated at a premium table, front and center in the Anfiteatro. There must be some primal thing at work here, something beyond my conscious mind fueling my annoyance, because I keep looking at her. Maybe it’s a predator/prey thing: her consistently inconsistent movements keep sending up a signal to pay attention, and it’s working. All I really want is for her to leave it the hell alone and quit distracting me. The only solution comes when Sandy and I finish our meal and leave.
Still I am waiting on the bus. I know this says everything about me and nothing about the second sighting of the Preenasaurus Rex, but I decide to kill time and vent my consciously unconscious judgments to Sandy via WhatsApp. He is back in Lucca and I am on the first leg of my trip home to the US. Finally, the bus starts to move and we are on our way to the plane when it abruptly stops. I look up from texting Sandy my comments. Oh. We have arrived at our destination. We drove half a block from the terminal door to the plane.
As we de-bus there are two ways to board the plane. I go a different direction from the youngsters, but it’s not long before I see they are sitting near me with their bags. Somehow the rules around how much you can carry on didn’t compute with these kids, and the flight attendants were left to shove the Valentino and Gucchi bags into overhead compartments all up and down the plane. And the most amazing thing about this spectacle? It let me validate my lesser self, a total justification to just let me be me. There is no need to process my projections, no need for personal growth here, or to employ the tempered understanding that comes from 61 times around the sun. Why did I instantly want to throttle this entire lot? Because they’re brats. Off with their heads!
We fly over the Alps and the plane starts thrashing around. Not my favorite thing, turbulence, and I have an irrational fear of flying. I wish I had something to distract me and try reading, but it isn’t enough. Where’s that preening girl with her predatory hair when you need her? She’s nowhere to be seen. Sad, as she had a chance to redeem herself.
However, today I feel optimistic. I was able to check my luggage the day before in Lucca all the way through to Seattle. With boarding pass already in hand I sail past the AirFrance baggage check saving me precious time and head directly to the gate*. After a train ride to get to the correct terminal, a 35-minute Border Control line, six escalators down and five up, another train ride to a sub-terminal, where some kind soul pushing a woman in a wheel chair somehow intuited I was about to miss my exit and motioned to follow him, a line through security check where people like to wait until they are told to get their toiletries out of their bag, and 1.5 miles of brisk walking later, I finally arrive at my gate. It’s taken two hours and pre-boarding has begun. How’s that phrase go? Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
Boarding goes smoothly and I am glad to see the middle seat is vacant in my row, leaving space between me and another passenger. However it’s not long after take-off that the woman behind me starts coughing into the back of my head. A non-stop outpouring of teensy-weensy itty-bitty invisible airborne mucus molecules flying my way. I will say it’s a potent distraction from my fear of flying. I am pondering my options when magically a flight attendant appeared. In her hand is a “Kit Sanitaire,’ and in that kit was another mask. I add it on top of the one I already had on and I am now one of those people who wears two masks.
This small victory is short lived, for from the bowels of hell and the same seat as the woman who is already making my day, comes the shrieking of an infant who absolutely will not be pacified. She is flailing her tiny feet, kicking the back of my seat in what I mistake to be turbulence. The baby is shrieking. The mother is coughing. And then the pièce de rèsistance: The guy in front of me leans his chair aaaaaaall the way back. I am pinned, smashed between the inflight entertainment console, the shrieking child with the thrashing hooves, and the mother spewing hack into the back of my head. Gotta admit, I wouldn’t have noticed if the plane went down.
I can no longer hear the movie I am trying to watch so I abandoned it for a pair of ear plugs. This goes on for over two hours, and then suddenly, the screeching stops. Hannibal Lecter, whom I’ve managed to keep under wraps, finally makes a guest appearance in my head and dryly surmises, ‘It shrieked itself to sleep.’
With some effort and grateful for my yoga training, I am able to extract myself from my seat to go to the bathroom. As I open the door I look towards the back of the plane where it becomes clear, there are entire rows unoccupied.
YOU MEAN I COULD HAVE MOVED?
Five hours later we land in SeaTac. To my mild surprise and delight, my luggage also lands at SeaTac. I grab my bag and wheel out into the Pacific Northwest air. First priority, pick up the cats. Second priority, download Duolingo.
*Note: For brevities sake I left out the extremely time consuming protocols of traveling during COVID, which among other things doesn’t allow you to print a boarding pass until you have submitted both a negative antigen test and proof of vaccination to a human at the the check-in counter. If you are considering any kind of international travel, allow three hours, not just two, to clear all the hurdles.
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