Homebound

 

“Are you done with that?” Asked the flight attendant. Her make-up barely concealed the wrinkles that revealed the years she spent suspended in mid-air, shoving the unwieldy cart back and forth between the narrow aisles and tending to passengers of all sorts—some sweet, some bitter, some with wanderlust and some homesick. I pictured her wearing the same mechanical smile that etched the fine lines around her rouged lips, repeating to each passenger, “Pasta or chicken?”

I nodded my head and handed her the tray…the little melamine containers holding morsels of food that made my meals in Switzerland seem a figment of my restless imagination. Seven cities in 16 days, numerous meals eaten alone or shared with new acquaintances whose faces and names sparkled in the dark recess of my mind like unrecognizable clusters of constellation… I was suddenly overcome with a longing to share a homemade meal in silence, with someone whose presence is so comforting that no words are necessary to fill in the gaps between bites.

The lights in the cabin dimmed and some plotless Hollywood movie began playing on the screen. The captain announced that we were traveling at a speed close to 500 mph and that no turbulence was ahead. I looked out the window and marveled at how fast the plane was moving and how excruciatingly slow it felt at the same time. The hypnotic light on the wing of the plane flashed, flashed and flashed, and the cabin was quiet save for the muffled noise of the engine. The Russian couple next to me pulled a blanket over themselves and the woman nestled her head on the shoulder of her man.

As I rested my temple against the cold windowpane, faces once familiar slowly emerged behind my closed eyes. In that nebulous state between extreme fatigue and deep oblivion, somehow I began to succumb to melancholy. I thought of the caring one who is close to my heart but rarely close by, the one who made me laugh till tears fell from my eyes but who could never make me cry, and the one who stirred my placid heart with one simple regard, but whose pride—or perhaps mine—dampened the white spark before it could flare into a golden flame of desire.

Traveling half way around the world and back, soon I will be back in the warm embrace of the moist Hawaiian air.