A Flight Through Adulthood This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   At 1:30 on a Tuesday afternoon I boarded a shuttleto Washington, D.C. There were no families, crying babies or agitated mothers onboard - just cell phones and business suits. The environment was quite a changefrom peak vacation travel, which constituted most of my flyingexperience.

As I sat, alone on a plane at age 16, I realized that everyoneseemed to be alone and no one was particularly friendly. I allowed myself tobecome intimidated by the Wall Street Journals, briefcases and laptops thatsurrounded my Discman, notebook and bright yellow backpack. I was clearly theyoungest person on the flight, and I felt a little out of place.

Myrow-seven companion was asleep before we even took off. I sat mute and startedthinking about how different the working world is from a child's everyday lifeand experiences. This plane left right on time, no changing seats with the kid inthe emergency exit row and no last-minute trips to the bathroom. These peopleprobably had a meeting to make. Everyone had his or her own agenda and acted asif there was no one else around. Nobody bothered to assist me when I struggled toput my bag in an overhead compartment that was obviously not designed for someoneof my 5'4'' stature (with heels), and there was no small talk about destinationsor the news ... or anything. It was utterly boring.

I looked around andrealized that the light above my seat that usually warns against smoking insteadread, "Please turn off all electronic devices." This forced mycompanions to unglue their ears from their cell phones and shut down theircomputers.

As flight attendants walked up and down the aisles preparing todo whatever it is that they are always busy doing, I couldn't help but noticethat I was the recipient of several brief stares. It may have been the shock ofmy bright sweater against the sea of dark suits, or possibly curiosity as theywondered where my mommy and daddy were. I felt more and more ostracized by myunfriendly traveling companions.

Washington isn't a long trip, so theflight attendants were quick to throw a "complimentary beverage and lightsnack" my way. I graciously declined the drink, figuring that my bottle ofwater would suffice. Besides, who wants to get stuck with that open can of sodawhen all you want to do is stow your tray table?

As soon as I made thedrink decision, I regretted it. The attendant seemed to extend my lack of thirstto a lack of hunger as well. As she pushed the cart away, I wondered, Hey! Whereis my light snack? The nun sitting across from me seemed to be really enjoyingher cheese and crackers, and I began to realize how badly I wanted mine.

Ipanicked, realizing I have never hit that orange service button, let alone whileflying solo, but it had to be done. I mustered up the courage and, shortly after,had my very own "delightful combination" for my snacking pleasure. Thefromage, crackers and Ghiradelli mint chocolate were worth the burst of bravery,though I could have lived without the raisins.

As I began to unwrap mychocolate (I had saved the best for last), the pilot announced we were beginningour descent and that from my side of the plane the Pentagon and ArlingtonNational Cemetery were visible. I seemed to be the only person on the planeexcited by this announcement. It was so odd how immune the adults were; nothingseemed to amaze them. I was baffled at how the flight had been shorter than thedaily bus ride I used to make to summer camp, and that our nation's capital wassuddenly beneath me. My fellow travelers sat unaffected as we passed over some ofthe most powerful places in America.

Before I had time to put all mythings away, we had landed. Everyone around me suddenly woke up, grabbed theirdrinks, briefcases and cell phones, and prepared to rush back into their busylives. No one applauded when the plane touched the ground, and no one looked evenremotely excited to be getting off the plane in another part of the country afteronly 40 minutes. Seeing how trapped adults have become in a world of all work andno play, I think I'll try extra hard to enjoy the little things like comfyclothes, a view of the nation's capital from my plane window and Ghiradelli mintchocolate.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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