In Case of Turbulence
Someday, like the people you meet in heaven, you will meet the people you sat next to on an airplane.
Our significance to each other will be diminished. We’ll have forgotten that we were, after all, interviewing for our last conversation. Our closeness predicated on an instinct that should we die, we would want to be sitting next to someone we trust, someone we respect, someone we enjoy. Someone we were destined to meet. Someone who we might even be a little in love with.
At every bump of turbulence, we turn to each other with bright eyes and imagine what it would be like to feel the collective surge as we lose altitude. We imagine a world where it is acceptable for it to end now. Where it is acceptable for a stranger to no longer be a stranger within minutes of meeting. Where it could be desirable – almost – for this person to be our last touch.
When we reach our destination, the forgetting is automatic – necessary, even. If we remembered them all we’d remember how whisper-close we felt, how many times they stole our breath. Sometimes I think of them and I want to remember what it felt like to sit next to them. But I never can.
The power of brevity, of measuring words and themes carefully.
It reminds me a bit of the story of British Airways Flight 009, that had hit a volcanic eruption in the middle of the night. Everyone survived but it was not fun. The passengers have recently had their 25th anniversary reunion.