Maybe On An Airplane

November 16, 2010
How many times has this been me? The sterile, pressure regulated, chilly air has once again put everyone else to sleep, besides yours truly. And hopefully the pilot. Even the stewardesses, identical with their rock hard gelled buns, unidentifiable European accents, plastic looking makeup, and stretchy smiles are pushing the drink carts with their eyelids half closed. Take my brother, for example. He’s in the same position I am. Flying towards his latest destiny, and all that crap. I mean, we’re however many hundred thousand feet above sea level, suspended in the atmosphere somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, and our lives will once again never be the same from when we packed our bags in New York this morning.
I say this, and he laughs. He has gotten used to it, of course. I guess most people would. All of the ‘Expat Kids’ I’ve met in my years around the globe, from Dubai to Delhi to Nairobi to Istanbul to Zagreb, have regarded the cities of the world as all pretty much the same, interchangeable, filled with the same uneducated nationals that wash their clothes and the same nightclubs that are so much easier to get into than they are in the States, or in England.
Because, after a while, it seems like a blur. I let my mind drift over my life, pushing my head back into the hard chair and balancing my feet on the ridge of the magazine pocket, pressing so that the man in front of me snorts and his glasses slip farther down his nose. The same diplomats’ kids, with the same designer clothes and effortless style, the same International school, with the same friends waiting for me, with the same goals in mind for this year- have bigger parties with more alcohol and better music, hook up with hotter guys, have bigger nights with more cheap taxis and cheap pot and expensive clothes. Have the sexiest, most unique, international style of the school. Learn a new language. Maybe get accepted to a different elite boarding school, if they’re sick of this life. Give me the name and nationality, and I can tell you about my waiting group of friends like I already know them. Ugh. The cheap, handout earphones are hurting my ears. I yank them out of the socket and out of my ears, and the movie that I had been watching moves on without me. I don’t even remember its name.
I sigh, and try for the hundredth time to close my too dry eyes and sleep. I’m just making this harder. My brother, a year younger than me, understands the life I’ve been living for fifteen years better than I do. You pretend this is the best the world has to offer. Because, God knows, you’ve been around. You party and cheat and drink and scream and try to get your parents to come out of their political world saving induced stupor for long enough to notice you. You pretend that your friends are real friends, that the girl you just met knows you better than anyone else, because you will never stay long enough to know her better. You enjoy short flings with the most wanted guys, because it would hurt too much to get in a real relationship just when you’ll only know each other for a year, or six months, or a week. You pretend it doesn’t matter that you don’t have a home.
Shut Up! I tell my mind. I’m depressing myself again. And it’s not that I hate this life- not at all. I love the adventure of it, I love to travel. I love to meet new people, ones I never would have met otherwise, and a number of them, no matter what I told myself, were genuine, real, good. I stare ahead, and my eyes start to tear up. Am I crying? I blink, and swallow the lump in my throat. My vision blurs and I can only see the kid in front of me, across the aisle. Someone has tucked one of the cheap, thin blankets up around his ears. His head is slumped on a bedraggled, over eager woman’s shoulder. She must be his mother. She’s actually wearing one of those stupid blindfold things that they hand out, with the Lufthansa crest right between where her eyes are. It’s sweetly naïve, the way she’s trying so hard. She must be new to this. She probably read a hundred online articles about how to sleep, what to eat, and those stupid looking exercises to do to prevent travel induced disabilities. I hope these two have a better life ahead of them. Remember your home, I shout at them silently. Don’t get caught up in how cool they all will seem to you, I telepathically warn the kid, imagining him gawking at the trilingual, Louis Vuitton backpacked, sexy accented, cliquey internationals I know he will meet. They will certainly make fun of him. And I can’t criticize them, I would have done the same thing. I can’t say anything about any of them, because I am one myself. The lump in my throat is coming back.
This year will be good, I insist to myself. A whole new city with a million new possibilities…what can’t you do in Cairo? I’ll have fun. Of course I will. But for once, maybe, I’ll make a difference. Maybe this time, they’ll remember me once I leave. Maybe I won’t be lost in the stream of preppy, sexy, teen expats, floating aimlessly around the world and trying to make their lives count. Maybe I’ll stand out. Maybe this year can be different. Maybe, I wish, from this airplane a million miles in the sky.

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback