All flight the stern faced women wedged next to me looked just ‘plane’ mean. By the angry dumbfounded expression she flashed me when I first pointed past the aisle seat she had glued herself into, you would have thought I had asked her to head down to the tarmac, chop off her legs and use the bloody stumps to guide the plane out of the gate, instead of just motioning that I needed to get passed her to the open seat by the window. Maybe she confused my red shirt with a Star Trek uniform and thought I could magically transport into my seat without her having to get up; of course being a red shirted crew member I also would not say a word and be dead soon.
Her puckered puss never changed from that ‘I smell rotten eggs’ expression the entire flight. I was not really in the mood for innocuous chit-chat either but it might have been nice to get a ‘bless you’ when I sneezed or at least a vague pleasant acknowledgement when I picked up her phone she dropped in the middle of her flight-long solitaire match. I guess with that attitude solitaire seemed the appropriate game because who else would would want to be around Ms. Sunshine.
My flight was only a few hours long but it still gave my head time to wander… which is usually a good thing I look forward to but now I’m not so sure. Between the non-stop duet of ear rattling ‘front-row rock concert volume’ screaming babies a few rows behind me, the delayed beverage service bladder busting stay in your seat with your belts tightly attached turbulence and the sardine-like over full airplane conditions on my late-night vacation-ending flight, I know my head was not in the best of places and, like my anti-effervescent angry-faced neighbor, I likely looked a bit surly myself.
I knew slogging around in my noggin like the ebb and flow of the tides was a mush and mess of emotions, fragmented memories and tidbits of feeling overwhelmed by my current plateful of reality. Luckily before I got swept under by the introspective undertow, my brain thankfully shifted from self-examination and mental flagellation to wondering why Ole’ Ms. Sucking Lemons Mug was so grumpy?
What was her back story? What caused that well practiced scowl? Is she actually happy but years of working in a pickle factory caused her permanent snoot expression? Was a life of misery about to cause her to snap like one of the mass-murdering loony de-jour constantly slapped all over the front page these days? Is she traveling to funeral? Does she have a deep-rooted hatred of bald men with contrived beards caused by doing too much meth while watching Breaking Bad?
I thought about my little slice of the world. What kind of image was I projecting about myself? Despite all the amazing good in my life that I have to be thankful for, it has still been a very tumultuous year and I might be letting the bad overshadow the good. My difficulties have been playing with my head lately. I’m not enjoying the alone time that I traditionally longed for. Lately, left on it’s own, my brain has been messing with my normal optimism as it obsesses over the death, sickness, moves and the job changes I have been faced with.
Of course the giant pink elephant dominating all my mind’s attention is that my wife and I are in the process of moving across town. The whole packing up the old place and sterilizing the bright colors of our fun old life with a few coats of neutral paint to prep the house for sale while at the same time slowly cutting through the packing tape on those just sealed hundreds of boxes in the so far vain attempt to turn the new place into something resembling what we call home, inside of a 60 day window has been leaving me in a permanent state of feeling tired, overwhelmed and wondering how to squeeze 48 hours of work into a 24 hour day.
I’m not sure if it was the best thing or the worst thing to do but this past weekend I ran away. I went on a long ago planned wacky boys trip up the California coast with a couple of my oldest friends. It was a few days filled with drinks, silliness and good conversation among the beautiful scenery. Unfortunately I think I was like the lady in the seat next to me with the grumpy grouper face.
Try as I might, my head was at home where I felt I had left so much unfinished work on my wife’s shoulders. One afternoon I was teased for wanting a few extra drinks (actually I was picked on all weekend because I had asked to get a drink to hold us over while we walked to the next place to get drinks) but I think in hindsight I was just trying to flush my brain a bit farther away from reality. Unfortunately, if sitting on a riverbed behind a cabin a short hike from the cliffs overlooking the Pacific is not enough to take me away from my realities at home, an extra sip of alcohol sure as hell was not going to do trick. Great… now I’m also worried I’m turning into a vacation alchy.
Maybe it’s easier for me to worry about what is wrong with that woman on the plane than to address my own issues. I know in a few weeks my universe will be much better. The old place will be sold and the mountains of boxes in the new house will be reduced to small hills as we slowly shift away from feeling like we are living in someone else’s space .
So what is the big answer? What is the big conclusion? How do I solve my woes and what about the snarling plane lady? I got nothing. It’s just one of those time things and eventually things will get better. Maybe the woman on the plane is just a simple reminder to me to focus on the good and not let life’s crap turn me into a dour sour grump.