Sunday, March 24, 2013

Flight instructions

I wrote this as I waited for the plane to go to Minneapolis this past Tuesday. I hope you enjoy it.

Safe travels,

-- Put your pocket knife and tweezers in the bag you're going to check. Find the lighter at the bottom of your purse, the one you keep there for emergency smudging, next to the tail end of the sweetgrass braid, and leave it at home. Hope that the shop at the airport, past security, sells cheap lighters.

-- Take the stones out of your backpack. Leave them at home. Your bags will be heavy enough without carrying rocks around. Put one small stone in your purse. It's probably okay to bring just one.

-- Fish around in all your pockets--in your coat, your purse, your backpack, all the nooks and crannies--for the things you have stashed there and nearly forgotten that the airlines will throw away: minty lip balm, lipstick, hand lotion, antibacterial lotion, cuticle cream, Rescue Remedy. Put them in a ziplock bag, quart size only, and put that bag in the front pocket of your backpack for easy removal in the security line.

-- Put your fountain pens in a plastic baggie inside your pencil case. They are not restricted items, not forbidden. But they might leak.

-- Wear slip-on shoes. Make sure socks are clean and free of holes.

-- Keep your wallet handy. Be ready to grab your driver's license and credit card. Show them; put them away; keep track of your boarding pass; put it away; take it out; once you get on the plane, fold it up and use it as a bookmark.

-- Get something to eat or drink if you have to wait a while--lord knows, they won't feed you on the plane. Be sure to have water handy. (The air on the plane is so dry.) But also be sure to visit the bathroom before you board.

-- Kiss the ones you love, hug them. But don't get maudlin. Don't think it might be the last time.

-- On your way into the plane, give the fingers on your right hand a quick kiss, and pat the outside of the plane, to the right of the door opening.

-- Stow your backpack under the seat in front of you, but first take out what you need--water, something to read, pen and pencil, something to write on, knitting. If your backpack won't fit under the seat, put it overhead. Do all of this quickly. Shove your feet on either side of your purse. Remember that this is the only place you regret having long legs.

-- Ask your guardian angels to help you not be afraid. Ask the spirits of the air to lift and carry the plane gently, and set it down again gently on the other end. Pray. Think about sleeping. Drink water. Read. Think about your destination. Think about your home.

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