The flight is full of clamouring teenage girls fresh from basketball camp. Loud doesn’t begin to describe it. Most of them spend the first thirty minutes before take off discussing where they will sit, then bursting into unexplained fits of giggles.
The brunette doesn’t want to sit next to the stranger. The tall blonde is texting, (I suspect) about another girl on the same flight. We soar through the air, a sherbet sunset over Mt. Rainier. The chattering doesn’t subside.
“I can’t believe the lady didn’t let me carry-on my bag,” the girl behind me whines, for the fourth time as she kicks my seat. Another one plunges her seat all the way back, almost destroying a laptop.
“Sorry,” she turns around to the panicked passenger, a teenage boy traveling with his mom. “Sorry,” again. Well at least she apologized.
I am headed home to Chicago to watch my best friend from when we were their age (15? 16) get married. Were we like this?
Yes. My face flushes with remorse. Well, we were a lot less spoiled. And I’d like to believe I was raised right because I wouldn’t even think to complain about having to check my bag.
When I was young
I got us kicked out of the movie Scream because I decided it would be fun to act like a total jerk and scream at every scary scene to see how long it would take to get the boot.
The Best Friend and I both got detentions for an especially raucous food fight in the cafeteria freshman year. I once jumped off a third-floor balcony onto a marble floor just to see what would happen. I almost broke both legs.
I think of this. And I think of how far I’ve come. And how far my friend has come. She had to walk over fire to get to this happy turning point in her life. And I am so incredibly proud that when I see her walk down the aisle, tears will spring to my eyes.
A tsunami of emotion rises inside me. I open the window shade then slide it shut. I do this on planes; the girls are too deep in their worlds to notice. They are texting and laughing.
I felt like the center of the universe once too. And I know their lives will shift soon.
The loud laughter will fade. They will have more to worry about than who they’re going to sit next to or who is texting about them. They don’t know about the turbulence ahead. They may even think this is it.
That’s what you gain when you get older. You turn from a weak branch into an oak. You know the storms that will blow you over and the ones that will just bend you back.
From the steps of your old house or the streets of your old neighborhood, you can see the distance you’ve traveled. I do not mean monetarily or beauty-wise or your rung on the corporate ladder. Those are all superficial. Those aren’t important.
I mean as a person of real depth, courtesy, and compassion. A person who realizes when they’re out of line. A person who would never slide their barefoot next to the person sitting in front of them’s arm rest. Like I said,
Remember when flying was a luxury? I don’t either. But still, manicured toes or not, keep your shoes on and your feet away from my elbow!