A few years ago when our niece Samantha accompanied Jilda and I to San Francisco, she made a profound observation about air travel that I’ve never forgotten.
She’d spent the night before the early-morning flight in our spare bedroom, and she dolled up for the flight. It was her first time to fly and you could hear the excitement in her voice as she told her friends about her trip.
Her dark hair fell in loose curls down past her shoulders and her makeup looked as if she was going on a photo-shoot for Teen Magazine instead of flying to the west coast.
She’d set out a pair of high heels to wear, but fortunately Jilda steered her toward more practical footwear.
A delayed flight out of Birmingham shortened our scheduled layover in Atlanta from an hour and a half, to 15 minutes. We’d planned a leisurely stroll through the terminals, making fun of frenzied travelers, and maybe grabbing breakfast at one of the various vendors along the way. That didn’t happen.
Fortunately Samantha was young and strong. We all sprinted like thoroughbreds to our gate in terminal C. There was a great deal of panting, but we arrived as the agents did their final boarding call for our flight.
I’ve never actually measured how far it is from one end of the Atlanta Airport to the other, but I know the east and west ends are in different time zones.
The flight from Atlanta to San Francisco was a little over four hours, but it seemed much longer.
By the time we arrived in the city by the bay, Samantha looked as if she’d been mugged.
She slowly dragged her bags to the rental car and leaned over to look at her reflection in the window. She shook her head slowly and said, “Air travel sucks the beauty right out of you.” I howled at the wisdom of her words.
It’s been a while since I’ve flown, but that changed when the new job scheduled a workshop for me in Orange County, California this week. I was excited about the opportunity, but bummed that Jilda had a treatment and couldn’t make the trip with me.
I got up at 3:45 a.m. and headed out for my early-morning flight out of Birmingham.
The flight was uneventful, but it seems seating has shrunk since I flew last.
As I winged west, I remembered the words about air travel that my young niece Samantha said all those years ago.
If I ever had any beauty, it got sucked out somewhere over Arizona. It’s probably on its way to Miami or Akron, flowing through the recycled air of Delta Flight 435.
When the taxi dropped me off at the hotel, I could see the ocean off in the distance, but did I venture down to dip my toe in the surf? Nope. I went to my room and took a long nap.
I don’t feel pretty, but I am beginning to feel human again.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Changes is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at email@example.com.