Flying to Memphis
Racing through the congested streets and onto the whirling Grand Central Parkway with a
world of iniquitous hurting nymphs at my back, I drove like a demon on fire in an
Indiana Jones’ Flick to catch the red-eye from LaGuardia on a cold and bitter night.
What was it that was chasing me from my home and city which had held my affection and
interest for fifty-five years or more?
Oh, I admit that it was petty and to some nothing but to me it was everything. That small thing gnawed at me. It was a certain something, a fundamental, sacred something that I missed in my life and in my city that if I slept on it would bite me hard in some tender places.
Was it the cruel, insolent and haughty stares of the women, be they young or old?
Maybe, it was all those hard looks that seemed to know something of long ago and well kept secrets as if under their breathe saying, ‘You ain’t shit so don’t bother trying to impress or fake me out cause we are the same.
We got the same thing down there, you just either early or too late to this trick, sister!’
Or could it be the men of the city?
The ones that no longer noticed me as they once did, no eye contact, just an invisibility, a negation of being.
Why, was it the grey or the weight?
But then, there were the hungry, calculating looks of some younger men which frightened and forced me to cross streets and to pensively scrutinize the sidewalk behind.
Could it be the dinginess of the people, of city life, of the over pricing of everything, for any reason?
I can’t say but it’s some of it .
Arriving at the Airport, one parking lot nearest to the door is closed and filled with the orange cones blocking the way.
Driving around, I find another lot, further away. It cost a fortune but I have no choice,
so I park and begin the struggle with my suitcases, purse filled with heavy books and other carry-ons.
Freezing, items falling from my purse, luggage tilting on its tiny wheels in every direction but straight, no buses in sight, I push on towards the departure signs while strangers pass, cars and taxis blow by, alone.
After fifteen minutes, I arrive at the unnaturally grey arrival carousels and baggage ports, no five dollar luggage wagons available, so I drag on to the escalators.
No one acknowledge or spoke to me, all eyes darting at their I-phones, the kiosk and the circling luggage.
Picking up my stuff from off the moving belt, I walk through the crowded corridors, turning left and right I still have time, so I sit at a café and order a tiny pizza and a soda for $23 but its fresh and tasty and there are working, portable tablets at each table for free usage by the customer.
Hearing the announcement that my plane is boarding , I shamble and reach the departing pad third from the last.
In front of me a woman in her forty’s, weave tight, wiry and stiff, impatiently pacing and talking into her cell phone while her hand finger her ass and the draw the eye to her harlequin orange, printed body tights.
News flash, no carnival here, its 5 degrees with falling snow!
The plane is a sardine can, its packed, and I forgot my airborne pills as the uncirculated, heated air in typical NY style stifling the mind to an unnatural slumber with every window shade down.
No room in the overhead bins so I push my bag and coat under the seat and find the man in the front of me has his things there so I cover my legs with the coat and put the bag between my cramped knees.
All the seats’ tables are down with either laptops, earplugs, cellphones or food, many more are watching movies on their computers.
My knees knock against the back of the Rasa music man’s seat.
The stewardesses offer water and soda but no refills.
Changing planes in the Carolina’s, there is something different.
Exiting the plane, workers announce that some connections are still available and waiting for us to board .
I was asked if I needed assistance to the plane?
My mouth opened to answered, yes and a cart pulled up and I was driven with my bags to the waiting receptionist.
I believe I was the third to last passenger to board.
As I board the plane, to my seat, I notice its cleaner and smaller.
The air is different, not stale, cooler, fresher and cleaner.
There’s a quietness, not so much banter, or movement.
The shoulders are not bent over peering at computers screens , very few headphones, or the flailing tips of New York Times and Wall Street Journals being folded back.
There’s no residual noise as the plane hits the sky, few shades are drawn.
Some heads are bowed, peering out the windows at the rising skyline of Charleston.
Cowboy boots with faded tips, beards and manicured go-tees, flannel and LL
No European cut pants for the men here, only loose fitting jeans.
The women like to wear them tight and the men approve.
Members only jackets with the American eagle on the arm or lapel is
sported by the cowboys.
Something about Karen, the stewardess , the worn-out jeans, the boots, the quiet,
the caps, the cool, vented air and no computers make me want some sweet tea
with lemon and ice.
Karen comes down the aisle with goodies asking the passengers what they want
and would they like seconds?
I ask her a question about the hummus which I don’t like but just want to hear her
and look into her sparkling greyish blue eyes of mirth.
She admits that she never tasted the hummus and only recently tried refried beans but. other passenger say that they liked it, darling.
There are lots of books, Nooks and Kindles on the tray tables.
A pas tor sits in the seat in front of mine. He stands to go to the restroom and I noticed that he has that deer in the head light look, as he drops his Bible in the magazine.
His fingers compulsively moves across his maroon v neck sweater to his dissented belly pulling at the cloth like a Saturday night reveler forced to attend church the following morning at 9a.m.
As he strolls pass, I stretch and fully extend my legs not being able to touch the pastor’s seat.
Karen returns with a garbage in hand and talks a spell with the pastor while she sums up
my feeling with,’As I like to say hospitality is a forgotten commandment, darlin’
more by DEBRA BISHOP
Photograph by Matthew Smith