Our 787 hunts the setting sun towards the horizon behind the Pacific Ocean. Though we don’t look like hunters. Instead, evenly-spaced and hushed, we passengers look like we’re running from something. Masks pulled tightly behind the ears, the air that seeps in though the creases at our cheeks is recycled through “hospital grade filters,” we’re assured.
29A is a window seat. I know because I was told by an Air Canada clerk and because I saw it when I boarded the plane. Left-most in a row of nine. Middle seats have been made vacant; only A, C, D, G, H, and K are the available options under current cautious conditions. I was nearly last to board, and when I approached my row, 29A was taken. 29C was open though, the aisle. I stood there; I deduced. The man occupying the space that my ticket meant to reserve for me didn’t look up.
“Are you 29C?” I said. He replied something I couldn’t decipher under his mask and looked to me. He reached into his pocket. “I’m 29A, the window seat,” I continued, showing my ticket. “It’s okay, I’ll take the aisle, as long as that’s okay with you.”
“Are you sure?” He said.
“Yes, fine.” — I prefer the aisle anyhow.
It might have been his first time flying; he did not seem aware of the switch he made; before takeoff, he asked me how to change the language of the entertainment system to english. I prepared to lean over to help.
“Do you have to pay for TV?” He asked before I did anything.
“No you don’t have to pay,” I said.
Then we were interrupted by the safety video.
He filmed takeoff on this iPhone out the window he chose to be beside. In the air, he slept — no TV, no movies. I watched two Hollywood features (The Gentlemen, and Little Women — enjoyed them both). I thought: a peculiar time to be taking your first flight. What urgency to be anywhere now? Most are sheltered, safe at home. I fly to Vancouver to be with my brother, to get a change of scenery and experience in this stagnant period. I suppose we are perhaps running from something: the stagnation.
But my 20-to-30-something neighbour … where’s he going? I can’t tell his age. His beard is a handful of inches long, rough and dark, pushing out under his mask. He wears cargo shorts, a tired brown hoodie, and sunglasses for sleeping.
He is just as attentive to the view out the window during landing. I am not. I don’t even notice we touch down. I think of what awaits me. I sweat as I write in my lap, my tray table in its upright position. My brother Lucas, his girlfriend Allison, roommate Mac with his own, Tamara. The two-bedroom condo will be crowded once I join it, on the couch/futon. Harvey is there too, a girl, a dog. I love her and can’t wait to walk her in the morning. It’s not just the people, it’s the page too. Empty and vast; a great labyrinth to be filled with the outpourings of my imagination in my visit to this brother-world. I’m fortunate.
B.F. Greeno, aka