Ode to the Airplane
Updated: Apr 29, 2019
Everything tastes different, feels different. You get drunker, sadder, dreamier - sealed into an incubus of divine, intensified feeling and left to marinade in tears and dreams as you stream through the stars. Problems are left on the runway, the cabin is bathed in dimness, small readers picked out by their low glowing lamps. People glide up and down the aisles, avoiding brushing your arms with all the reverence of a funeral party. You have time to waste on bad movies, which - suspended from hurry and stress - suddenly seem to be just what you were after. You are rotating, suspended, riding the curve of the horizon.
You never sit on the loo seat. The person in front of you will take exactly 7 mins and 13 seconds to do a wee. Why? We’ll never know. Leave it down to another mystery of the skies. Air hostesses wear too much bronzer and hair donuts bigger than any you’ve ever seen in Boots (a special shop for them you wonder?) Solid middy heels, reassuring nude tights. All the dignified trimmings of serious drinks: ice, lemon slice delivered with dainty tongs - let down by a paper cup.
You learn how to sleep sitting up, how many houses around Heathrow have pools in their back gardens, what the sunset looks like above the clouds. You have the longest goodbyes - life events are sewn together with flights. They suspend us silently with the low mumble of the engines to sing us to sleep. They arc countries and continents. We lean against the windows and dream of where we’ve come from and where we’re going. We dream of what could happen, who we could meet above the weather.
We gather our paper napkins in our hands and bite our tongues when the seatbelt signs come in with a blithe ‘bing’ to signal the start of turbulence. Everyone will be relieved when we land, everyone will move onto their destinations, hardly stopping to think about the time they spent in a midnight tube - gliding soundlessly through the air as though we were great a blinking metal kraken gliding through the darkest seabeds. We are all flyers at heart, and for a moment (just a moment) the moan of an airplane overhead can take us to a sunset far, far away….
Written and illustrated by Jess Bird