I’m on a plane headed to Los Angeles, in the very back row with my dog Joey at my feet in his bag he hates. He’d prefer to sit in a person seat. Or in my lap. Wherever is most inconvenient for me, that’s the place that suits him best.
He hates flying. He hates the confinement of it and shakes nervously in his bag he hates, the vibration of the plane beneath him making him think he’s under attack.
It’s unavoidable, this invisible attack I put him through so we can go there and there and there. I tell him he will be happy once we get to there, that humans he’s tricked into believing he’s wonderful will greet him and fawn over him and accept all the kisses he has to offer. He chooses to panic anyway.
The world below my window is hilly and white. Winter doesn’t excuse itself for a few more weeks in the northeast, though the calendar and Duane Reade are doing their best to convince us it’s time for spring and bunnies and chocolate eggs and Kisses in metallic pastel foil.
I’ve become somewhat of a window seat junkie, a strange development in that my long legs would lend themselves to the aisle.
But there’s no view from the aisle.
From my window, I’ve seen the world. I’ve looked down on the tippiest toppiest points of Canada where the ice is the whitest white that’s ever whited and the water is the blue of fables. I’ve skimmed the pale sequined expanse of the Pacific, peeked into burnt red canyons, and slid down the Hoover Dam.
I tell myself I will spend the flight reading, I have multiple books ready in my backpack for all the reading I will do, but I spend most of the flight staring down at the earth instead. It reminds me of the bigness of the world, the smallness of me, and the wonder of our being here.
I’m flying to Los Angeles because today is the fifth anniversary of my other half becoming as much. Which is its own kind of wonder. We’ve seen a lot of the world together too. We’ve walked the streets of Jerusalem, had Singapore Slings in the hotel in which they were invented, and tried the grey stuff in Beast’s castle and can confirm it is as the song claims, delicious. We’ve watched sunsets on the California beach, seen mammoth bones in Texas, and had the loveliest most sublimely-compact Thanksgivings in New York. We’ve surprised each other for our birthdays with big to-dos and forced audience participation from our friends. Our friends which have become our friends.
It’d be unfair to us to paint a picture that’s filtered and FaceTuned and lit just so. We’ve had fights where we’ve said the big things we can’t take back. We’ve planted our feet in the ground, flags in the hills on which we are willing to die, only to buckle and compromise and apologize and talk to God about it. We’ve fought, but we’ve laughed more. We’ve sung more. We’ve cried the good cries, the happy tears, the love that manifests as water droplets on the corners of our eyes.
I didn’t know I was allowed to experience love like this. I never truly considered it was for me. For others, sure, but not me. But here we are. What a wonder.
We’ve now reached the point in the flight where Joey has calmed down. He’s sleeping in his bag he hates, curled up in a ball, his head tucked beneath his tail. Perhaps he’s made peace with his temporary situation. Or perhaps he’s just sleepy.
He doesn’t know that in half an hour, we’ll be on the ground and that the person greeting us is the person who makes both of us the happiest. His tail will wag and his hips will shake with uncontainable gusto, his way of saying exactly how I feel. “I love you, I love you, I love you.”