3000 2

Today, 3000 the other way.

Right now I am over one of the Dakotas. The thin, sparse white clouds blend perfectly with the total blanket of untouched snow on the ground, making it difficult to tell which is which at times. It is rather dreamlike. There are no trees, no roads, no houses, nothing but white on white as I gaze out the window below me, just the jutting gray edge of the plane wing catching my eye away. It makes me think about how JFK Jr. died, how it was thought that at dusk he could no longer tell what was sky and what was water, nothing to give perspective, the horizon line lost. I wonder if there was any beauty in that, the melding of the air and the ocean, into something otherworldly. Even a millisecond’s pause to take in such a vision, before the fear came and certain death known, maybe not even consciously thought, just seen.

Everything is different up here.

On the ground, though, it is just another Sunday as I travel the length of the country. My cab driver, smart and interesting, talks to me about the economy and the city, and how so so many people he talks to in his taxi have lost their jobs or are worried that they are next in line. I tell him the city seems quite different than when I was here last: cleaner, friendlier, easier. He asks me if I think it seems like there is more money around now, and I answer yes. He agrees, and we both concur that there will be even more changes. All those fortunes made on bad business, money spent, money gone, bye bye high life. He tells me he and his wife, a schoolteacher, have 4-year-old triplets and they would like to buy a house soon. They have saved and squirreled away money here and there, and he thinks they will be able to do it. I imagine what it is like to have triplets in a small city apartment, and I wish him well.

When I get to my gate, I sit on the floor next to a mother and her adult daughter who are very very very very obviously Minnesotan. I know this because they have identical short haircuts, possibly cut at home by Aunt Ruth who has the sharp scissors and gives the exact same cut to all men and women, both are wearing sweatshirts that read I HEART NY, and, AND, I kid you not, every other word they say is YA. OAAAAAA, YAHHHH. YA YA YA. I remember this, the ya-ing, and it’s not like I can’t get going with the YA HEY thing myself when back in the Midwest. But they are ya-ing SO MUCH that I start giggling. When the mom goes YA YA YA YA YA, five times in a row!, I snort and burf into my Starbucks coffee I am drinking and spill some on my jeans. It was great.

There is another fascinating pair of ladies sitting next to me on the plane to Minneapolis: The Captain Obvious Sisters. They are in their early 20s and seemingly, possibly, have never been outside before and maybe never on a plane. I have tried my very best to recall their exchanges as completely as I can here, as we are getting ready to land:

COS1: We are in the air now, but soon we will be on the ground.
COS2: Yes, we are low to the ground. There are trees below us, not very far away.
COS1: I can see trees too. The plane will have to slow down some to land.
COS2: Yes, it won’t be able to stop if it doesn’t slow down and go even lower too.
COS1: It’s good we have seatbelts on the plane.
COS2: They will help us if the flight is bumpy some.
COS1: I was glad to have that tray to put my water on. It is a good thing to drink lots of water when you are flying.
COS2: I should take my pills now, while I still have some water left.

We land, a little fast in the slushy weather mix, and the plane takes a little hop up again after the first touch down. The Sisters loudly gasp and both reach out and hang onto the seat ahead of each of them for dear life. The plane settles again, smoothly, and continues to the jetway, a rather unremarkable descent, really. I look at the Sisters, now prying their fingers off the seats, no doubt appreciated by the people sitting in them.

COS2: Oh! That was a very rough landing!
COS1: It sure was! That was just awful!
COS2: I was worried we would never stop!
COS1: I felt like we could keep sliding!
COS2: Oh my gosh, yes!
COS1: I wonder if we will make our connecting flight.
COS2: Sometimes they will make planes wait. Maybe our plane will wait for us.
COS1: Gosh, I hope so!

I see the tag on one of the Sister’s bags. Orem, Utah. Ahhhhhh.

I hear from my daughter that there is snow in Seattle today. Well, of course there is. It is because I am flying in today, is why. Dammit.

An hour to go to ground, clouds above me once more, the land and the sky separated, perspective seen.