Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Best Laid Plans....

This time I was prepared. I bought a burrito even-there was tofu involved. I was ready for the six hour coach flight, I really was, and I wasn’t going to complain. I even had things to “do”.

And then the impossible happened- party of two in first is a no-show.

So here it is, flight 223 back from Boston to LAX, and for once they’re serving right on plan- EFBO and all. And for once I’m in the bulkhead….but definitely not complaining. I’m ordering the pasta.

There's no comparison to my last flight- A few short days ago I was subject to the shortest overnight in history- we landed 40 minutes early. I shared an exit row with another passenger sans upgrade, but with a few drinks. Not a smooth flight, and at someplace between 12 and 3am is not really the time you want to realize the in-flight movie is the chipmunks. It’s just not what you want teasing you that you can’t sleep at 36,000ft.

Anyhow, it’s been awhile since my last post, not devoid of flying, but full of everything else it seems. Even my bartender at the Admiral’s club asked where I’d been. Truth is, I’m nearing the end of this crazy experiment in what it’s like to be a travel-maven. Though even grounded, I don’t think I’ll ever shake the urge to play the frequent flyer- the hidden rules of the system, the seat-booking game, the inside lingo, and of course the single-serving friends.

Speaking of which, my seatmate and I were both well appraised of our good luck tonight. Heady with the good fortune, we converse about the little things- the type of plane, the seats, where he’s off to for the next week. The banter is short, clipped as we figure each other out, I’m answering the questions:

“What plane is it?”

“737. They took the 757 off this route a few months ago; it ruins the boarding process at Logan- no drinks until in flight.”

“So you fly this one a lot.”

“Yes. I like it when it gets in early. Tailwinds. Why does my seatbelt have an airbag?”

“Mine does too, that’s new.”

“Lawsuits, this must be a new plane, I heard they took delivery of ten new ones last quarter. And still no wireless.”

“You learn this from being executive platinum?”

“I keep my ears open, it can’t be helped. And yes, it's all they make it out to be.”

The plane takes off, and we talk about work, vaguely of course. He’s nice, a typical airplane friend and I’ve had much worse. Still, I’ll never see him again; or if I do I won’t notice. Soon I’ll miss these conversations, they’re a good chance to try out myself- a string of first impressions, not something one usually gets. I suppose if I was bold enough I could create a new persona for each flight. It’s not like what I do is typical, and people seem to buy it. I’m not, however, that bold.

Half-way there now, probably someplace over the land of small towns and open spaces, and my latest single-serving friend has put up his feet on the bulkhead to get some sleep before embarking on another week’s work. I should as well, but something about the dim cabin and the last shreds of daylight out the right-side windows is keeping me awake. That or it’s the flight attendants in the galley enjoying a few moments between the dinner service and cabin-cleanup to chat. It might be about basketball, but I can’t really tell. Maybe they’re Boston-based, whatever that even means in today’s frantic and understaffed flight schedule.

But back to the thought of being grounded for a moment before I kick back to watch whatever’s on the short feature tonight. At first brush I was worried, how would things go being really in one place? I haven’t lived in Los Angeles without the flying, the moving, the plans. But there’s a stability and a contented sense I’ve been missing, and I’m looking forward to finding again. To feeling like life can move forward, rather than in circles. However, there are a few more months to go and they’ll be full of planning and preparation for a new chapter, one I’m more than ready for.

Chapters. I promised myself I wouldn’t play that game but it slipped out. I’ve heard a trait in successful people is their view on life’s progression- chapters or linear. Do parts of our experience close, complete- or is it all one unbroken line we can direct?

It’s both. It has to be. Things come and go, but still we’re all headed someplace eventually. Tonight I’m nearing the Pacific again, and what’s promising to be a short night’s sleep so I’ll try to catch a few minutes before we touch-down.

Until next time then…