Community Columns

Head in the clouds, heart in San Francisco

Frank and I were sitting in the terminal of the San Francisco International Airport waiting for our flight to be called. We passed through security quickly (is that a good thing?) and arrived at the gate early. I figured it was as good a time as any to write my column.

I powered up my laptop and waited for a flash of inspiration. Minutes passed and, ah me, the cursor was blinking and nada. I decided to “prime the pump” by journaling. I’ve read that journaling (writing one’s thoughts and feelings) can help get the creative juices flowing.

So here goes:

That familiar sad squeeze in the region of my heart is back. This happens every time I say goodbye to my kids. I do know this will pass, I do. But, for now, it is what it is.

Frank, ever helpful, says, “Why don’t you write about saying goodbye?”

“Goodbyes? Don’t think so. What would security do if I have a complete meltdown?”

Frank looks a tad uneasy (un-Frank-like) and asks, “Are you all right?”

“I’ll be OK.”

As folks scurry about the terminal, it’s evident that the mode of dress for flying is “airport casual.” Most folks are wearing backpacks and carrying duffle bags. Back in the day, we dressed to the nines and carried matching hatbox luggage.

Flight attendants were gals we called stewardesses. They were dressed impeccably in sleek uniforms and pert little hats. Funny, they kept their hats on throughout the flight. Maybe the hat-wearing thing was tied in to the hatbox luggage we carried. A theme perhaps?

Security was hit and miss. Liquids, gel shoe inserts and razors posed no threat. Today I went through security shoeless and beltless. Soon full-body scanners will be deployed at most major airports. Some folks have privacy fears concerning the use of said scanners, but I’m surprisingly OK with it.

They’re calling our flight.

Fast forward to in-flight.

Blink … blink … and blank. I continue journaling.

The captain has informed us that we have reached our cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. I could have done without this tidbit. While flying, I imagine that I’m somewhere else, preferably with both feet on the ground. Do I have denial issues?

I look out the window and trust that a flock of birds doesn’t decide to fly with us; I scan the cabin and hope no one has anything of an explosive nature in their underwear or shoes. But wait — we all took off our shoes. When are those scanners being installed? I check the window again, and still no birds. Does anyone else have these weird thoughts?

I’m distracted by a flight attendant who looks like Tom Cruise. He smiles and offers me a snack. Back in the day, I may have flirted with him.

I glance toward the restroom. Uh-oh, a line is forming. Do I wait on line or tough it out? I once made the mistake of sitting in an aisle seat toward the front of the cabin. The idea was to deplane faster, which I did. The trade-off? I was jostled throughout the flight by folks waiting to use the restrooms.

I must have dozed off because the captain announces that we’re starting our initial descent. It’s the last call to use the restrooms. I’d better join the line.

I’m back. My seat belt is buckled and I’m definitely more comfortable. I wonder whom Tony Bennett thought of when he crooned, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” For sure, leaving one’s heart anywhere is a delicate business.

Frank smiles and asks, “Are you OK?”

I smile back, “Yup.”

I revisit my ruminations. Even though my heart is lagging behind (somewhere between San Francisco and New York), I have unwittingly written my next column.

The spectacular Manhattan skyline is coming into view (minus any birds.) We’re almost home. And home, after all, is where the heart is, or will be in a couple of days.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.