There was a time when I didn’t want to fly because I hated flying. You know, the act of flying. That thing where wheels up, pressed into seat and all the bad things happen in the first few minutes or the last few minutes when rubber meets the road when it’s all gonna be okay or it’s the moment you wished you burned your journals before you left home.
Then there was the time I learned to understand how the act of flying works: you get over the fear of the crashing thing and realize the bigger picture is you’re at the mercy of the airlines. Sure you ordered a ticket online (which no one taught you how to do, you figured it all out yourself, wishing you had someone looking over your shoulder to guide you and say good job!), then you marked the days you’d be away, getting ready for the big day like you were cramming for a test the night before hoping there’d be no mechanical failures or oversold seats or the other dumb things dumb airlines do. It all works out, once you realize how flying works, and as long as you keep taking deep breaths and pretend you are a mourning dove flying or a dolphin diving you are fine.
Then it’s all over and you need a ride home in the soaking thunderstorm that kept you from getting a gate, sitting long on the runway but that’s okay, too. It’s like being stuck in a subway car or the DMV. It’s inconvenient but at least you’re in one piece, okay? So I walked the mile to find my bag (which is actually Dad’s luggage he never used) and went outside to see if there’s a Norfolk taxi black and white available. Nope. Life is full of decisions, you know, like should I sleep on the plane or watch a crappy movie that the chick with the prosthetic right arm is streaming across the aisle. I chose the Eastside taxi instead of calling for the usual because I was so tired, I just needed to get home and didn’t care as long as it had four wheels and a go. An elderly black man abandoned his fast food meal on the front seat and loaded my one bag. I told him where I needed to go, that I preferred the back way but he said I-64 was fine this time of night, no traffic, so I said fine, whatever. He drove like an old man and I liked it and then I was annoyed and then I liked it because I wanted him to move faster but if he did he’d be hitting the deep puddles that had accumulated during the thunderstorm I’d been sitting in at the airport. Norfolk gets a lot of water but hasn’t found a way to drain it effectively. He was a conservative driver and part of me was like “go man go” and the other part was like “thank you for not hydroplaning us into a terrible accident that makes me regret not burning my journals before I left.”
And then! And then. He plugged in his music playlist and it all came home: Diana Ross of the 80s through the speakers. Goddamn, I wanted my roller skates and silk shirt and forgot the airplane and my ache from sitting twisted so my elbow didn’t touch the other guy’s elbow and the crappy movie and leaving a writer’s nest and missing him singing ‘At Last.’ We made small talk. I told him to avoid the I-64 entrance across the way because it’s probably 3 feet deep by now, go back up town. He appreciated the advice from someone who’s lived here a while. I tipped him good then dumped my stuff on the couch and slept like I hadn’t slept before.