Deeper and Deeper

The first grader in the aisle seat is traveling alone. The man sitting between us helps him get set up with the headphones the airlines have given him. The boy tells the man in the middle that this isn't his first airplane flight but that it is his first flight alone. No music is playing yet. The boy takes the head phones off and quietly looks around. The man explains that the program will probably start once we take off.

I offer him the sports page and the comics from my newspaper. He politely accepts them and reads quietly to himself as we taxi towards the runway. I'm crying. A deep gut wrenching, throat constricting, nose running cry.

I turn away from the boy. I'm not ashamed. I've been crying shamelessly in public since the twenty-second of February. I just don't want to alarm the child. He doesn't notice. Neither does the stewardess when she offers me a drink and lunch. Neither does the man in the middle when he passes it to me. Maybe they do notice but think it's better not to ask if anything is wrong.

Would I have asked? You know, before. It's so hard to remember what I would have done before.

I do know that the man in the middle is getting on my nerves. It's not that he's doing anything wrong. He's just reading the paper and mostly minding his business. Somehow it feels as if he's in my space. Everything is too closed in. I don't like the way he's reading the paper. I don't like the way he's turning the pages. He's chewing his food too loud. He's breathing in my direction.

All of a sudden I hardly notice him. The moment has passed. It was me not him. Fortunately, I knew that during the episode.

Danese warned me that this was coming.

She said that months after her father died, she would have very intense crying spells in her office for no apparent reason. She didn't have to say it, but of course she meant for no reason apart from that whole dead father thing. And so I sit here in seat 5F not watching the movie and crying for no apparent reason. None except for that whole dead daughter thing.

The same thing happened on the flight to San Francisco. The woman next to me chattered on about how she had changed jobs from gymnastics to Spanish. I told her about Elena. This reminded her of another story. A relative of hers who had lost a child the same way. The stewardess announced that it was safe to use electronic devices and to move about the cabin. Out of nowhere I started crying. It was so sudden and deep that it took me by surprise. The woman seemed not to notice. The movie came on and she took out her headphones to watch.

Danese had warned me about that too. It's ok. It can't be comfortable for people to see strangers crying. Not a stranger that they can not to and move on. A stranger that they'll be sharing an armrest with for the next four hours.

The movies coming and going were fantasies. In one, Queen Latifah's character thinks she's going to die in a month and decides to spend all her money on a final treat. Of course, the diagnosis was wrong – she's not going to die and her new freedom allows her to get the man, the restaurant, and the acclaim she's always wanted. Along the way she tells off a Congressman, a Senator, and a wealthy business man. She ends up cooking with a fictional world famous chef and a celebrity chef appears at the end of the movie as himself attending the opening of her restaurant.

Just like real life.

I didn't even put on the headphones for the movie on the return trip. It's a mermaid movie. I'm assuming there's a whole fish out of water theme and a plot based on a need to get back to where you belong. But at it's core, there's this mermaid who turns into a woman through some plot device and and a point later in the movie when you are just getting used to her as a person she goes back to being a mermaid.

I learned much about mermaids just from glancing at the screen now and then. It seems that mermaids are topless and that they prefer to wear their hair so that it falls strategically covering them up for frontal shots from the camera. It seems that their boyfriends don't casually brush their hair aside to take a look, even when they are kissing. Mermaids also only toss their heads to move their hair out of their way behind them when they are transformed into women and are wearing human clothes.

All that aside. This underwater creature can become a person and then return to the sea. If I suspend my disbelief enough to accept that, why shouldn't I expect to see Elena waiting for me with Maggie when I get off this plane? My smiling, beautiful, little girl bouncing in her car seat unable to contain herself while I put my suitcase in the trunk. With her window down in all kinds of weather, calling to me to come greet her.

Beside her, Maggie would glance up from her video game and say "oh hi Dad" like she hadn't noticed me. Maggie would have called me on Kim's cell phone to say where they were and how late they would be. They might be sharing a bag of skittles or a tin of Altoids. Sharing means that Maggie gets to hold them and doles them out when it is time for another. Elena would start a story she'd been waiting to tell me. Maggie would roll her eyes and say "oh brother" and interrupt with commentary.

Elena would raise her voice and complain "you're interructing me".

Zero to sixty in five seconds. I'd go from a road trip without my family to being right back in the wonderful comfortable routine that was us before I could buckle my seat belt.

That, for those of you have asked, is what I would like tomorrow for father's day.

It might be hard to remember how I reacted to things before – but I wish I was back in that wonderful world again. It's time for me to go home again. Home to the world in which I swam freely with my mermaids.

Published in: on June 17, 2006 at 9:22 pm  Comments (19)  

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19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. There’s a song that your post reminds me of… it is by Diamond Rio, and titled: “One More Day”. I know how you feel, I feel much the same way every Valentine’s Day, which is Gee’s birthday as well as being Valentine’s Day.

    I do want to wish you a Happy Father’s Day, for what it is worth.

  2. Geze i didnt even bother reading your post – its too long. I would suggest getting a life. Taking a shit would be more interesting than your life.

  3. Please keep writing and ignore comments like the one above. I have been reading this blog but haven’t commented because I’m not sure what to say. I wish you could have what you want for Father’s day.

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