Monday, February 24, 2014

recycled oxygen

I don't spend a lot of time on flights. 

Or traveling for that matter. With small children and a deep desire to hermit, it's not on the top of my list. So when I do travel and risk my life for death defying air travel(am i the only one who thinks this?), I can ponder quietly on life and people and future.


I was dropped off a bit early at the airport and decided to get an ice tea. Always ice tea, even in the winter. A lady whizzes up to the Starbucks giant line and sort of panting exclaims," I have a flight leaving very soon. Can I go ahead of you?" One by one, same question, barreling through the line with a giant suitcase. The hormonal pregnant woman in me wants to say, perhaps a better choice is to not get a coffee and get on your flight?
But I don't. Because people are watching, not because I'm kind. I want to see who will say no and eye one really agitated man a couple of people ahead. he's ready for a standoff and for some reason, it warms my heart. 
she makes her way to him and asks the same urgent question.
Where are you going?
She answers something. probably, the moon-- where i belong.
 I'm on the same flight. You're fine.
She still keeps her spot in line and grabs a salad. I laugh to myself. No coffee, but a salad! The lady in front of me rolls her eyes and sighs. The older woman behind me chuckles with me. 
I watch another pair of women order drinks. When one of them opens her mouth to order, her voice is off. Tonal. She's beaming and proud. as she speaks more, I realize there is a special need there and I keep my eyes on her.
The barista says, excuse me?
 smah. SMAH. And proudly hands her card over. her trusty partner, who I think is her sister, repeats , she said small.
And all i see is Lila. Many many years older and smiling, looking completely normal and well dressed. Trying hard, so exuberant, feeling independent. Excited about an adventure and it's showing all over her face. She can't hide her emotions like the rest of us. I see her as a little girl that i know and feel tears working their way up. i wish i was her for a moment so i could show my emotions with no boundaries. She isprobably 45 years old now. I'm distracted from my swirling emotions, When the lady behind me hears my order and says, that combination sounds nice. I'm an ice tea gal myself.

Oh really! I've never met someone like me in that way.


Well, what the heck! I'll try something new, she says.

Good for you, I say. Bonding over our love for Iced tea even in the winter and disdain of the salad lady from the moon.


I sit down and drink my tea. Older Lila sits a stones throw away from me making eye contact with everyone and smiling. Her eyes giving giant hugs. god knitted her together and she is precious. can anyone else see it?
I think about how special needs kids are endearing when they're little... But people forget that these children grow along with their need for independence. Is it cute then? I think. When they become an adult, it's not so endearing. then what? I have always felt alone in that thought, but now, i watch someone--a stranger-- live out my fears. And instead of sadness, it's like salve on a wound. 

When I get in line to board, I stand next to a man. 
I say, you headed to Florida for fun or business?

Fun. You?


Fun.


I keep it going for a bit more,  Are you from here? Or passing thru?


I'm from Amarillo.


No way. that's where i was born and grew up some of my life! It so strange to meet someone from there randomly.
We board and I sit next to a sweet elderly couple playing gin. He's an attorney and quick whitted.
he remind's me of my dad. hard from the law, able to talk to anyone, and somewhere in there tender from life's hardship.
He introduces his wife and i say, it's so good to meet you.
 I'd say it's nice to meet him but attorney's aren't anyone's favorite people. We laugh together and I watch them play cards and tease each other.
"Did you really just throw that out there? My goodness!"
A minute later, looking up from the side of her eye, she quietly and proudly mutters, gin.

I think about the future again. Will My husband and I grow old like this together? Traveling and enjoying eachother as empty nesters?
I look up and see sweet older Lila coming back from the bathroom. She's beaming again and we make eye eye contact briefly. I want to say, I'm proud of you. You are independent and I see you. But there wasn't enough time and she didn't need my words anyway.
In a place where a million people come in and out of, all keeping to themselves. a lonely place full of people, I found comraderie with them. A similar drink. The same home town. My greatest fears lived out. Someone like my father sitting next to me.

The future was swirling 25,000 miles up in the air with questions as many as the clouds out my window.
But I couldn't help but smile and feel a sense of camaraderie even among strangers. A sense that somehow  we're not alone. And For all the differences we have, we forget to notice there's probably more sameness than we'd imagine. a breath of fresh air from the cynical and critical found in the recycled oxygen and confined spaces of airports and airplanes. 

42 comments:

  1. I love your writing, Jami... My Mom and Dad met on an airplane -- my Mom was 18 and flying back to College... Dad for business -- that was the beginning of their relationship, that recycled air. Amazing what a metal tube soaring in the sky can teach us! Lovely words :)
    ~ Holly Michalka

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    1. i didn't know that about your parents!! that is so sweet.

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  2. What great grace to have eyes to see people and love them! It is never easy, especially when traveling. The beautiful work of the Spirit :-)

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    1. totally the spirit. consider i'm a hermit that wants to pretend like people aren't around me. ha!

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  3. I need. need. NEED. you to write a book. Yes, this is my need.

    [Okay, apart from my utterly selfish command, thank you for sharing your writing with the world. It warms my heart.]

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  4. I don't travel by plane very often and I've always thought of it as a treat, I drink in every moment and people watch as much as a I can, (I call it people watching but sometimes it turns into blatant staring...whoops). Anyways, I can't even tell you how quickly community can form when a flights been delayed, or there's a disabled women on the flight that needs help with a wheelchair, you've captured this perfectly and remind me how much I love getting tiny little glimpses of other peoples lives for only a moment during travel and how much I see myself in others sometimes.

    Thank you for sharing!

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    1. so good. i have usually just been so critical about people when i'm at the airports. i think the worst comes out when people are tired and out of their comfort zone. but i was wrong. :)

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  5. This brought tears to my eyes, girl. So beautifully written. I agree with Lynn Soon - you need to write a book.

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    1. i am writing one. :) i mean, i only have one chapter. give me a couple years. ha.

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  6. I love this post so much.

    Also, I LOVE people watching at airports. Some of the best out there!

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  7. Love this!!! Thanks for sharing and being so honest... We are going to be on a long flight come April and I am already a bit nervous about having our twin one year olds. Praying for sweet understanding mommas and grandmothers sitting around us!!

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    1. perhaps you'll have some sweet and understanding passengers!! godspeed. :)

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    2. Ashley,
      We live overseas and do long flights with our little ones (now 3.5 and almost 2) often - I always pray that too! We've met lots of wonderful grandmothers on our trips (sometimes I think we've literally sat next to angels!). A good activity for the plane is to get them each a cheap blank notebook and those big dot stickers you'd use to label stuff and let them go to town sticking them on their notebooks - they are easier for them to peel off compared to actual kid sticker books. :) And don't forget lots of snacks! Happy flying! :)

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  8. This post was beautifully written and something I've thought about and felt often on airplanes.

    Have you heard of the organization L'Arche? I think you would love it. http://www.larcheusa.org/

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  9. Some of my most favorite random adventures have been on planes and in airports. As a teacher I see lots of meltdowns from special needs students, and a lot of time these also happen at airports because the unexpected and new can be a trigger. There are lots of people just like you who do a silent cheer leading routine in their minds when they notice a special needs person succeeding in the world. Someday someone will do a silent cheer leading routine for your daughter and it will be because you taught her how to succeed.

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    1. Kayla, you made me number 2 cry. I pray for lots of silent cheerleaders! Thanks for your sweet words.

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  10. Beautiful! Thank you for this picture of humanity. It's wonderful when we see the hope, love, peace and beauty living around us. Love it. :)

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    1. it's out there! for some of us, it's hard to see. but thankful God gave me a glimpse. maybe he's changing me... :)

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  11. Thinking about my special needs bro who is still my baby bro but is also a 25 y.o. man who needs people to applaud the big--nay, GIANT-ness of boarding planes without going mental and ordering drinks and following social cues. Thanks for this reflection and thanks for being a friend in those friendly skies.

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    1. so good! it's so good to know that there are others out there doing the hard things.

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  12. I love this, I'm such a people person and a people watcher. My BFF and I frequently make up stories about people we see in the street. Our favoring is making up a story of how a couple met. We give them names and everything all based on a simple glance, or behavior.

    I can so relate to how your mind flows from one thought to another. I love to find strangers to laugh with about some foolishness going on around us. It always reminds me that we are all the same to some degree.

    www.mimicutelips.com

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  13. jami, this was so so beautiful. and not just because you are a great writer. you've always been a good writer. but this is different. this is new. and I found myself so connecting to every person in the story. thank you for sharing this, for making me laugh, for making me almost cry. this was beautiful. i love you.
    ash

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    1. You are a sweet treasure. It was new ... You're right. Just writing experience that seemed small, but was big in my heart.

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  14. Lovely words, Jami! Really seeing people reminded me of this video I saw just today: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151976487412989

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  15. yes. i so enjoyed this. reminded me of a post i wrote about a nursing home we go to. talk about comfort zone. kissing folks with no teeth. our eyes seem to be opened so much wider in the least likely places. your lila is for His glory. she will help break up the hearts of the least likely. did i already say i enjoyed this? yes, yes i did.

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    1. You're so sweet. God is everywhere and we're all too busy to see it most times. Praise him for small glimpses.

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  16. Yes! Thank you for sharing! And I am with you, sister, when you talk about Lila's future. I have two littles with special needs, down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Everyone thinks they are so cute now, but I always wonder will they still think that when they are grown? Because a five year old boy (who is the size of a two yr old) is cute when he blows raspberries with his tongue, but a 45 yr old man doing the same thing isn't seen as cute. A little girl who can't control her -ahem- gas is cute, but a 45 yr old woman who can't control her gas is probably considered rude. How do I teach them to be socially appropriate and still be them? These are things I think about often, too. And I just have to keep trusting the Lord one day at a time...

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    1. Yes. Totally my thoughts. God will give us the grace for the time when it comes. And give others on airplanes and restaurants and schools and anywhere that grace too. It's sufficient for us all and where I find comfort.

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  17. Seriously so beautiful!! My sis is special needs and just turned 22. I always pray sweet people like you come across her path and cheer her on! Thank you for this

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    1. i just love that. i pray for her sisters to be like you!

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  18. my word this is gorgeous. i'm spurred to take a new look at my same-old day.
    thank you, jami, for putting your heart in our hands.
    such transparency is a gift.

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  19. Omigosh, crying at work again. So beautifully written Jami. Thank you for taking me on that journey. Thanking God that he gave you that experience. :)

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