Sunday, April 27, 2014

Flight from Guilt to Freedom: Departure at Gate 4A

The following is a recitation of a dream from last night:

I am on a plane in a sparsely populated first class section. My seat is close to the pilot's cabin, there is no one in the seat next to me. Further down in first class is a man periodically glancing my way. I know him. He is older, well-dressed and classy; he serves as some sort of a mentor to me. He has helped me so much in my life that he evolved to become a father figure. I sit in my seat contemplating adding his last name in front of my own in a legal way. That is how grateful I am for his help. Somehow I feel uneasy in his presence. Why aren't we sitting next to each other?

I put a blanket over my head. I take out two cigarettes, put them in my mouth and light them. Since I don't smoke in real life, the taste of tobacco is rough and unfamiliar, the cheap airplane blanket fills up with smoke like an Indian sweat lodge. Underneath the blanket I hear a male flight attendant approach me. I have been discovered!

"Didn't people use to smoke on planes in the 1950's?" I think to myself. "Then again, in the 1950's, they probably smoked while giving birth.Move the ashtray, honey buns, we need to cut the umbilical cord."

I put out my cigarette in a plastic cup filled with coke and a few ice cubes. The smell is intense. "Show me all your cigarettes" the flight attendant asks me. I show him my pack of menthol cigarettes, the two putout cigarettes -defeated and moist with cold Coca-Cola- and my vaporizer that I didn't use on the plane.

I normally don't smoke cigarettes so I don't care if he takes them away but I feel possessive of my vaporizer that I do enjoy. I hold out my trove of nicotine-delivery products like a shy kid showing his marbles to the teacher.

He doesn't take anything and walks away. A portly catholic nun dressed in all white approaches my seat. She speaks Spanish or Portuguese and I don't fully understand her. But it is clear that she is guilting and admonishing me for smoking on the plane. She seems to know me personally and is disappointed in my reckless behavior. Suddenly other passengers appear around us but instead of joining her polemic they turn the guns on her. Asking who is she to judge me. And bringing up the child abuse scandal and other issues that undermine the church's moral authority.

The nun looks bewildered by this turn of events and leaves feeling awkward and defeated. The other passengers also disappear. I suddenly note the presence of my mother and step-father on the plane. I feel closed in and anxious. I don't want to talk to them about the incident and wonder how much I will be fined for smoking on the plane or if I will be arrested for it.

I think the plane is going from Columbus to Cincinnati so I reconcile myself to the fact that it will be a short flight (a flight so short that I'm not sure there are commercial flights from Columbus to Cincinnati since the cities are an hour and a half car ride away from one another). Suddenly the plane begins to land.

Instead of resting at an airport landing it descends on a narrow road filled with cars. The cars lazily move out of the way as if they are accustomed to this turn of events.

The pilot bursts out of a cabin, looks at me kindly, without judgment and announces the landing.

I make my way out of the plane but no one follows me, no passengers, flight attendants, parents, mysterious rich benefactors or angry nuns. I am not in Cincinnati. I notice the warm, bright Seattle sun around me. I am in a familiar place between University District and Wallingford.

A road I walked many times before. I feel free, immensely pleased and relieved. The plane takes off and I am alone. I head to a nearest coffee shop to get a snack and some tea.


  1. Good times ahead for you in Seattle.

    1. Thank you, I hope you are right.

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