Please stow your tray tables in the upright position and politely look away from the travellers who are having a silent breakdown.
For some reason, I think it’s ok to cry on airplanes. Well, from my experience it seems like something that’s accepted, politely overlooked by other weary travellers by a stiff smile and a diverted glance.
People are generally leaving somewhere loved, someone loved… returning to someone loved… or coming to the realisation that at the end of the baggage claim line, there is no loved one waiting this time.
It’s something that seems to be accepted with a kind look, instantly replaced with casual indifference. You can cry. Silently. It’s understood, it’s ok. For some reason it is and I’m not going to ask you to explain or pull yourself together. Go ahead, but into the window or quietly into the darkness if you don’t mind.
I guess the crying people don’t make a scene and their sadness is something that sometimes just shows the others how lucky they are to have someone waiting when they land or when they return. It’s a kind of unspoken social currency- you can have this moment without judgement, without awareness or restraint and we can be thankful for our own lives.
Anyway, I seem to do this a lot… cry on airplanes that is. I get attached, I love too deeply and I can’t stay still, it’s an interesting mix. Also I’m usually completely exhausted and to be honest, I’m usually crying beside I’m sad to leave the people and places I love, and at the same time overwhelmingly happy to be going back to the people and places I love. It’s a lot to deal with, over 1,000 feet up, far away from anyone but disturbingly close to my own thoughts and emotions.
We touch down and I hail a cab. The cabby asks how my day has been… I say ok. He says ok too.
It’s ok to lie about these things too sometimes. Anyway its only a 30min cab ride before I get home and there my enormous dog will be beside himself just to see me. There will be such extreme tail wagging that he throws him off his feet, and there will be face licks and cuddles and that look; never leave again. My housemates will give me a hug and be genuinely excited I’m home, and I know I’ll be grateful that I have such an incredible place to come home to. That’s it right? You can find yourself stranded in limbo; as the night sky, the long week and separation mix dangerously with the confines of the cabin and the hostess’ voice grating on about seat-belts at a volume that will split eardrums… and apparently… in that moment, it’s ok to be human.