I Can Barely Keep My Eyes Open

So, I thought that now would be a good time to muse in full view of the public. I didn’t sleep on the plane.

The woman next to me had a bladder infection which was announced by the flight attendant before take off.

“She has a bladder infection, so she’ll have to get up quite a lot,” the flight attendant proclaimed. I pretended not to hear. We all pretended not to hear. I turned the page in my book, then turned it back like I missed something in the last paragraph. I eavesdropped.

“I don’t mind,” the man in the aisle seat said. He was very large and didn’t move. She was very upset. She crawled into on the middle seat next to me. She grumbled in French.

It took me all of Magic Mike XXL and three episodes of Veep to realize how terribly annoying my overhead light was to the dark cabin and particularly to the woman with the bladder infection. I was absorbed with my knitting and with the body rolls and abs.  It was her signal, the slamming of her elbows into the back of her seat and the knees behind it, then the stabbing at her screen and leaning into my overhead light, that clued me in to just how out of touch I was. I turned off my light.

My layover is in Paris. Landing in the early, early morning in Charles De Gaulle Airport gave me the creeps. Empty airports always give me the creeps. I think it’s the apocalypse. I think an empty airport is where you’d really feel the end of the world first. The airport is the first place you’d finally accept that there is no where to go. You’d buckle down and eat a lot of fun size bags of chips. When I’m walking through an empty airport at some odd hour, I always wonder what it would be like to set up camp. I imagine how tired I would be of eating chips and those Biscotti cookies. I make a note to raid the Johnson & Murphy for leather goods and then Sharper Image for all the batteries and neck pillows.

I eventually landed in the Air France Lounge where I have been sitting for a few hours. I took up my knitting again and drank a cappuccino. The view is wonderful. The lounge sits over a tunnel out of which two highways stretch out toward the city. I can’t stop watching the cars. I haven’t seen a single car with a ding. I haven’t seen one with a crusty paint job. I’ve been looking for a real beater driving through the airport grounds. None.

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I imagine the lives of the people in those cars. Off they go over the hill of the highway bridge. There they go into the city or away from it, on their way to their lives. I feel grateful.

My job is taking me to a refugee camp. In the next few days I’ll walk through a camp with people who left their lives behind never to see them again. Here I sit watching other people return to them. I am grateful. I am grateful for the clean lines on the road and the drivers patiently making their way between them. I am grateful for the simple road sign, the tall pine tree and the trimmed grass in the median. I am grateful for clean windows.

Peace is made of thousands of decisions, decisions made by regular people doing the peaceful thing right in front of them. Someone trimmed the median grass. Someone put up the road sign. The drivers are all staying in the lanes drawn by well meaning road workers in the street.

There are people in the world who have lost everything, that spend all day looking for an ounce of peace. And here it is, right in front of us, thousands of small decisions that built this peaceful moment. Here we are, sitting in the middle of it.

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