Falling Night, Rising Wings

Dearest Rachel –

Between the time we board the plane and the moment of liftoff, the sky fades from the edge of twilight to nearly pitch darkness. This is how things are as we approach winter, after all.

The cabin steward, noticing my coughing (although at first he confused it for a sneeze and offered his blessings), has given me a bottle of water to try to calm my throat. I appreciate the gesture, but doubt it will actually serve such a purpose. On the other hand, it will wash down a couple of caplets, which hopefully will both stifle my symptoms and cause me to sleep.

As soon as the plane is in the air, the couple next to me gestures to the steward. They’re asking to be relocated – I’m hoping it’s to be nearer the rest of their family, and nothing personal against me. Even if it were, any offense is mitigated by the fact that I now have a full three-seat row to myself.

It allows me to move my backpack from beneath my seat (where it’s keeping my legs folded up underneath me) to the seat next to me, thus letting me stretch out a bit and get comfortable. Admittedly, I’d be that much more comfortable were I permitted to doff this mask, as it’s getting unpleasantly moist from my breath. To be sure, it isn’t as if I could doubly infect myself, but it is something of a nuisance, no matter how I look at it.

But this is life, traveling in the age of Covid, and once again – like with the security procedures ushered in with the results of 9/11 – nothing will ever be the same again. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is regardless of anything Daniel thinks. It’s just how things are and will be ever after, and we’re just going to have to live with it.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for my battling a cold. The trip to Denver, after all, was fairly straightforward. It’s just that a.) I’m not in the best of health right now, although I’m not completely laid-out kitten-weak like I have been on occasion in the past, and b.) this trip is going to be orders of magnitude longer than that trip to Denver. Seven hours to Amsterdam, followed by a two-hour layover, and then an hour and a half to Basel before getting shuttled to the hotel for the night prior to embarkation.

It’s almost a relief when the dinner service comes through, barely an hour into the flight; at least, it’s a moment in which one can take one’s mask off, if only for that moment.

I’m not particularly hungry, and it is airline food, after all, but moment of freedom is worth it.

All too soon, though, the meal is over (it’s not helped by the fact that I’m suspicious of that carrot salad – even with taste buds as limited as mine are for the time being, I’m hesitant to mess with that), and it’s time to replace the mask. Still, maybe between the effects of the earlier caplet, and the recirculating CO2, I can fall asleep for a while.

Except, for whatever reason, I can’t, quite. Oh, I keep my eyes closed and endure the tedium of waiting for the sandman, but he never deigns to show up. I think part of it is from being unable to quite get myself comfortable; every position seems to be likely to generate bedsores on my backside.

It isn’t until some four hours into the flight, when I decide to make my way to the lavatory, that I discover that, not only is the row I’m sitting in empty, so is the row ahead of me. And that row in the very front of the seating section, which means that, if I settle myself down there, I can both lean back in my seat without disturbing anyone, and stick my feet out as far as I want to as well. If it weren’t for the narrowness of the seats, it might as well be first class.

It’s still not enough to lull me to sleep, however. The convenience of the seating is a double-edged sword, as they’re positioned right by the lavatories. This would have been a positive boon for you and your tiny bladder, but the flushing noise is rather loud, even in my congested ears. They use that same vacuum flush system that we encounter on the cruise ship, so they ‘bark,’ and bark loudly.

Another issue is that those seats are right by the emergency exit, and while I don’t have any particular objections to that responsibility, the real issue is that air seeps in from outside at that point. Meaning, those seats are particularly cold; even the attendant acknowledges this. It’s so much so that I find myself retrieving my jacket from the overhead bin. Well, at least this means I have all my carryon luggage down already, so I can leave that much quicker.

Well, such are the trade-offs of travel, I guess. I’ll touch base with you once we land.

Take care, honey. Love you

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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