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December 06, 2004

The Storm

A cold front came in off the Pacific tonight, moderately strong, and buffeted me from behind as I walked from the BART station to the truck. I was listening to music through the headphones: the Cranberries. As I walked, tugged at by the wind, a train rolled overhead with thundrous mechanical noise that overwhelmed even the loud music in my ears, and the memory came on me like a flash flood.

It was 1985, and I was flying to Buffalo. It was a US Air flight with a change of planes in Pittsburgh, and the flight was not going well. What started out over Baltimore as turbulence had become wing-straining, rivet-loosening fury somewhere above Altoona. Four, five lightning bolts struck the plane each minute, and people's drinks flew out of their hands and hit the ceiling. My seat was at the front bulkhead, rear-facing. I had a Walkman. I had a tape: X's Los Angeles. "Pretty rough," I had been thinking, and then I saw the flight attendants strapped into their chairs, mascara streaking down their wet cheeks, hands white claws gripping at the armrests. They were across the aisle from me; they were eight feet below me.

I saw lights out the far windows: the Golden Triangle, Monongahela and Alleghany flowing past to become the Ohio. This is how it ends, I thought, and John Doe sang Johnny Hit And Run Pauline to me as I - couldn't help it - broke out into the biggest, happiest smile I'd felt myself smile in at least two years.

Posted by Chris Clarke at December 6, 2004 09:22 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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OK, that absolutely did not help me with my abject fear of flying. NOT. HELPFUL. CHRISTMAS COMING. FLYING REQUIRED.

OK, breathing again.

Posted by: paperwight at December 12, 2004 07:35 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs