So I had this string of truly awful airplane luck, beginning in January of 2011 with this wild ride back to Boston and ending in June of that same year, when I spent 8 hours in the BWI airport only to have my flight cancelled at 9pm and end up stranded for the night. It was traumatic. I’ve written about it multiple times on this here blog even though it is not even a good story, just one of those awful wincing things that makes you want the person telling to shut up so you can, instead, tell your own story of agony.
Anywaaaaaay, I ignored any opportunities to fly anywhere for the next year and a half and stuck to ground transportation. Fortunately/unfortunately, we got rid of our ground transportation about six months ago. While I don’t necessarily notice our lack of vehicle on a day to day basis (unless, of course, our laundry cart breaks an axle a quarter mile from our apartment, but you really don’t want to hear that story, it’s too depressing), it does seem strange to miss out on so many cross-country, Boston to Michigan drives. We used to trek it two or three times a year, and this year – a year during which we actually must be in Michigan from time to time to, oh, plan a wedding – we have no such options.
Instead, I have become a jet-setter. Back on the air-travel wagon. That is a confusing metaphor.
I hate it a lot more than I used to because I know how awful it can get, how quickly your plans can disintegrate, how awful your concourse food choices are at 9:00 p.m. when you haven’t eaten all day because you’ve been taxiing around the runway for hours without AC. And how much a bowl of Pinkberry costs. It’s sickening. I stress out the night before, sleep fitfully, wake up feeling ill, and clutch my armrests during take-off. It’s awful. But such is my over-privileged, first-world life.
But there are three things that always please me about air travel:
1) The sleeping on your early morning flight, followed by an airport Starbucks on your layover.
2) Taking pictures of oneself in airplanes and airport terminals
3) Plane books. Plane books. Plane books!!
In December, I flew from Boston to Columbus and I read Eric Greiten’s The Warrior’s Heart. I thought about Navy SEALs for the entire trip; at dinner one night, I asked my sister if she could ever be a Navy SEAL and she said no, because one time a Navy SEAL did a motivational presentation at her place of employment and she read his memoir and it was really intense. And yeah, that Navy SEAL that came to visit was Eric Greiten. I find this kind of reading kismet endlessly amusing.
I flew back from Columbus to Boston and read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, which I liked a lot more than I thought I would, and which led me to read Tiny Beautiful Things, which I liked a lot more than most other books I’ve read in my life.
In February, I flew from Boston to Detroit to do some wedding planning. I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which in case you missed it, I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved x 1000 loved. There may have been plane-crying, which I think is one of the more dignified types of public-transit-weeping. Crying in a taxi is probably the best. Crying on the 66 bus is probably the worst.
On the leg home, I read Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, which was a hard one to stick to, but sometimes that’s the point of a plane-read: you are trapped, you must finish the task, you must keep reading until you are done reading. Yes, it was dense, but yes, it was rewarding, and I still think about it often.
Next week, I am doing another Boston -> Detroit jaunt, for wedding planning, a wedding shower, and my smallest sister’s GRADUATION FROM HIGH SCHOOL. SERIOUSLY. HOW IS THIS HAPPENING. I’m thinking Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising for the purposes of potentially attending a book club once I return (assuming all flight plans go as… um… planned and also that I am not dead to the world), and finishing up Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins (assuming I haven’t devoured it in its entirety before then; I’d give it a fifty-fifty chance). I just picked up Her: A Memoir – that might be hard to avoid.
At the end of June, I am headed to Chicago and back again.
Shortly thereafter, back to Michigan in July for this thing called Getting Married.
Once that small life detail is taken care of, back to Boston, then on a plane to… oh… Italy.
How many books can one read on the way to Italy and back? How many books can I justify bringing with me in my luggage? Maybe it would be a good time to tackle Infinite Jest on my Kindle? Who gets slightly excited about reading a 1000 page book on her honeymoon?
These are all very unimportant questions with unimportant answers, but the moral of this story – as is the moral of most of my stories – is this: books and coffee. Coffee and books.