She’d never liked flying. Disliked airports, and their false cheer and grinding processes. Hated being stuffed inside a metal tube hurtling through the sky. If she had her way, Mom, Dad, and the cats would be within walking distance.
‘Good morning,’ the flight attendant smiled. She handed him the ticket nestled inside her passport. Removing and scanning it, there was a flash of hesitation. Here we go again, she thought. But he looked up, handed her passport back to her. ‘To the right. Enjoy the flight.’
Doubt it, she mumbled. She felt the pit in her stomach. The familiar sweaty palms. Remember the mantra: one step at a time. Find a seat. Sit in it. She obeyed, taking a deep breath and glanced at the family of four seated close by. The sight of the baby instantly made her regret her choice.
She held her breath as the child squirmed, showing the initial signs of discomfort. Like a bomb waiting to detonate, his little forehead turned from a pasty white to a crimson red.
Whatever you do, please don’t …
And it penetrated the air; a cry deeply rooted in the existential dilemmas of life, heartbreakingly desperate, as if the universally sad truths had only now been spoken.
She sunk her head between her knees, wishing she was back in Mom’s lap. Back in the garden, surrounded by the people who soothed her inner child. The family home, removing the shackles of the rat race upon entrance. But time is limited, she reminded herself. Try not to count it on your fingers. A deliciously rewarding burden, the expat lifestyle. Tied to home, but seeking it elsewhere. Asking infinite questions in a finite amount of time. Rushing from the next to the next to keep the mind still.
You can always come back, Mom chided in her head. Always return to that which formed desires and habits. Always come back to old hurts and inconvenient truths. Always return to that which you need. Always come back to love.
And when the boarding announcement sounded, she knew it to be true.