The Misery of Flight
i worry about dying young. Every pain, ache and dull throb is an alarm. It's carpal tunnel. Lou Gehrig's disease. A heart attack, right around the corner.
These are things I have thought in the past, and which I will think of again
Why are you still here?
I guess I'd better start unpacking.
When I was a kid we moved around all the time. I grew to love the smell of cardboard boxes, extra-size bubble wrap and the sound empty houses make when they're empty and the echo of your brand new sneakers rings, rings, rings, clear as a bell through every room and every bare, soulless nook and cranny; this is possibly the best moment of each two year sequence, and you will never feel as good again until next time, until it's time to leave again and the walls are naked with the stretch marks of life, in the sad august evening light
Then it's time to go, taxi is downstairs or across the street, and every toy, every book save the ones you really wanted to bring along are lost in a limbo, transiting overseas, in a space in your mind; you can guess the outline of each object, but quickly their memory fades and all that remains is the urge to build, the urge to tell a story to yourself, the urge to plunge into the limitless dream world of your own making. The oversized taxi carries your whole family, like Jonas and the Whale, except God wouldn't have forced us to take this terrible life decision. We have three suitcases each, and at the airport we gather them in an unsightly pile, and we're small so we lie on them pretending to be roman aristocracy having pickled olives on our dinner couches, except it's just animal crackers and then extra-minty chewing gum.
Mom says we should sit tight and keep the bags, and so we do, while the passersby stare at our strange caravan, stranded in the middle of the airport with our hands around the rungs, and the whole contraption is a bit like a horse you know. We hold on, and the horse is very still. I think to myself this is going to be a great adventure, even though I have no idea what an adventure is, even less so a great one. Unfortunately as the story will show I was very wrong. It was a bad adventure and I wish I'd stayed home.
When we arrive, it’s been a long flight with the airplane food leaving its oily memory over the wave of our mouths. The flight attendant thought I was Scandinavian because I have blue eyes and blond hair, and I think that’s really funny because I can’t speak a word of Danish beyond “yes” and “hello”, although it turns out those are international words. So I smile and say hello I’m seven years old and the flight attendant laughs and I get a free juice box, except Mom is going hypoglycemic so she really needs the sugar. I get a sip and convince myself it tasted like cough syrup anyways. I’m stuck in the middle aisle and the windows are too far away to see. This is disappointing because my first-grade teacher says that heaven is right above the clouds, and I really wanted to see my hermit crab Mikey who died because we thought he was dead although I much later learned that he was actually molting. Dad threw him in the trash and I was ruined by such a simple act, we had a big garden and I would have shoveled all the way to China in order to bury him properly.
We wait for hours in the Copenhagen International Airport, which is much smaller than Dulles. The sky is a peculiar type of gray, like the lint from a washing machine, and Dad says his friend isn’t picking up the phone. I want to play with the baggage carts, because the tiles are smooth. But Anthony stops me before I injure myself and never walk again. We have matching khaki pants, that came in three sizes, one for each of us. The knees unzip and become shorts, which is very convenient considering the climate is bound to be different and we don’t know what to expect over there. I think back to the House, and the red bricks, and the magnolia tree. The memory makes my temples ache, like trying to force two magnets together with just the tip of your fingers. Luckily, they scatter into the void as we gather our fifteen suitcases and get in the taxi.
Græsset er grønt og himmelen er blå.