Up in the Air

After finally packing it all up, I got just a few hours of sleep before Dad sped me off to the airport at 5am. I was feeling quite settled and sorted as I waited to board my first of three flights that would finally end me in Miami. There was a young woman in her late twenties who was having a major freakout in the gate next to mine. I wasn’t sure what her problem was but it was quite disconcerting. She was visibly distressed and had worked herself into quite a tizzy. I was just about to offer some help but some other good Samaritans beat me to it escorting her away. I found out later that she had never flown before and was very very scared. I tried to imagine and empathize. But the first time I went on a plane I was twelve. And I was alone. And I was going across the country to see an aunt I didn’t know. And I didn’t cry. But then, I guess kids are more durable.

On the flight from Edmonton to Houston I was sat next to a charismatic Saskatchewan native called Ashley. He helped the time zoom by keeping me engaged in lively conversation between my cat naps. On the next leg of my journey, I met Cory who is a Irish/Norweigon paramedic. We talked the whole way to Orlando which helped distract from the plane full of youngsters on their way to Disney. They even had their own line to board which was four time longer than the adult line. For once, we unfamilied types got a break.

I waited for my friend Jon’s flight to land then we both made our way to our last leg to our final destination. We were giddy with excitement or exhaustion, I don’t know which. We were two of only five passengers on a tiny little prop jet. I have never been on such a small commercial plane and it was really neat. Just two rows of seats behind the pilots who sat up front completely in plain view. I marveled at all the lights, knobs, dials, and buttons they managed with effortless panache. It all looked so complicated to me but they just barely hovered their able hands over the controls and we were airborne. Airplane pilots are so cool.

The lights were off in the cabin which made it easy to see out the windows. I was enthralled by the whirr of the giant propeller for a while before finally getting interest in the lights down below. I marveled at the sensation of the tiny plane swiftly cutting through the airspace like a hot knife through butter all the while pretending this was my own private jet and the pilots were my friends. It was a decadent fantasy indeed.

After some time, Jon and I migrated to the back of the tin can and sprawled out over the empty seats lulled to sleep by the hum of the engine. Next thing we knew we had completed our decent and made a hard landing in Miami. It was completely bizarre but it felt like these two young pilots were driving some rad sports car as they sped down the strip. They all but squealed the tires and we neatly slid into our parking space with precision and expertise. It was clear they were having fun.

After grabbing our luggage, J and I caught our shuttle to the Catalina, an art deco boutique hotel in South Beach. After hearing my excitement to get to Joe’s Stone Crabs, our driver Alexandro generously offered to take us there. He was ever so helpful to arrange for our luggage to be checked before making a special trip to deliver us to my very favorite restaurant, just in time for one of the last seatings.

After a delicious meal where I ate far too much (it was the Key Lime Pie that did it), we hobbled down the street to walk along the beach. The air was warm and the sand was soft. Save for a few other late night revelers, it was more or less empty. Finally checking into the hotel at 2am, I barely remember my head hitting the pillow.

Grateful for pilots.

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