Soul Meets Body

I checked my last Xanax through to Logan before I could choke it down.

I’m in seat 3A of an eight-seat Cessna 402, a plane only slightly larger than a station wagon. I’m not quite white knuckling this puddle jump between Nantucket and Boston, but I am uncomfortable. I am remarkably lucid. Too lucid. There is clarity of vision to this flight — a 60-mile flight across the Atlantic at 5000 feet — that is unnerving.

I try to read (I am revisiting Douglas Coupland’s “Generation X” some ten years on), but I’m faking it. None of it sticks. My eyes dart from the controls to the passengers to the shimmering sea below me. I imagine a water landing. Would I have time to assume the crash position? Would my neck break? My spine compress? Would there even enough room between me and the smooth-shouldered blonde occupying the co-pilot’s seat? Well, I thought, at least my last vision would be this woman’s smooth, tanned shoulders.

Soon we are over land, and I determine that it’s Cape Cod. I see the elbow of the Cape, and follow it to Providencetown where Erin and I once sat on the dunes and whiled away an afternoon some fifteen years ago.

I spot Boston glimmering in the setting sun. We bank north, and begin to descend. I find the runway, a tiny postage stamp thousands of feet below, and think, ‘No chance. No. Fucking. Chance.’ My chest tightens. I can hear my heart beating in my ears. I fold my hands in my lap, praying enough to work, but not enough to get caught by the other passengers.

We are falling from the sky like a brick. The tiny plane drops in bumps and fits. The runway seems impossibly small, and impossibly far away. But gaining fast.

A Quantas 747 crosses our runway. An American DC10 idles just off our intended runway. I think, ‘Don’t turn, don’t turn, don’t turn.’ Tony, our 26-year-old pilot, holds steady. Sure enough — sure as I’m typing on my PowerBook right now — Tony sticks the landing.

I bump my head stepping off the plane and think, ‘Great shoulders, but definitely not the last thing I wanna’ see before I die.” I exhale climbing the jet way, and fish the orange prescription bottle from my baggage.

One more flight. One more Xanax.

Party at 21,000 feet.

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