Window Seat

The assignment for week one was to write a 250 word essay on what really frightens you. This is not my submission. It’s 257 words, and I have a lot more attempts to go before I decide on which one to use.

I pick a window seat when I fly. It’s what I’m paying for—time engaged in the pursuit of defying gravity. I like being suspended between the depths of space and familiar earth. I only know I’m moving when the plane’s shadow zips by on the checkerboard below, or when another airplane transects my field of vision like a bullet.

I think flying might be a lot like being dead, only then I won’t know where I am or where I’m going. I’ll be suspended in perpetuity with silent seat-mates, wailing babies and puke-encrusted mothers, women with too much perfume, men clinking their rings against their cans of mixer. I’ll have relinquished my fate to a pilot I don’t know, who might talk only pilot-speak in my native tongue. My comfort will have been assigned to flight attendants (no more stewardesses in the afterlife) with fake smiles who sometimes grouse at people slow to respond to directives.View from airplane window

I’m not afraid of flying. I love the tight feeling in the back of my abdomen on takeoff, and anticipate with glee the thud of the plane’s landing gear as it contacts the diminishing runway. I admit, though, that out of reverence, and possibly a little superstition, I don’t like to fly on September 11, even though the flights are often cheaper.

No, I’m not the least bit afraid of flying. What really scares me is being trapped for eternity in a window seat with a sleeping fat person next to me, and a full bladder needing to be emptied.

© 2012, Jennifer Pierce, All Rights Reserved

Pop’s Birthday

Memory is plastic, bending to our needs, and rarely retains the form of the original events. Just the same, I cling to mine as though it was a lifeline tossed from some safe spit of land fading in the fog of age.  I’m sure some of this must have really happened.

Pop in front of his school busMy father unwraps a birthday present and it is a tape dispenser for his desk. It is heavy and rounded, made of plaster and the pinkish color of my father’s Nash Rambler. A gilded decal on its sides reads “Too Soon Old Yet Too Late Schmart”  and my sister Karen and I think these are the stupidest words we have ever read. We pay attention, because this is the era of our Motto Club, and the decal smacks of an adage we might add to our collection. We don’t.

In fact, I have no idea of the color or what year it really occurred, or even if there was a Rambler, but the form and the mystery of the message has remained intact, and vivid. The dispenser was a present given to my father on what must have been his 50th birthday, just one of many jokes that day. My older sisters prepared a kit for him, in preparation of impending old age, including a faked bottle of Geratol and a gray wig made of an old mop head. It may be that Karen and I even gave him the dispenser ourselves, at the prompting of someone else. His reaction to his presents that day may be why I remember it so well.

He also received a vanity plate for his car, but even that was wrong. It read SD 46, the only number available close to fifty. He used it anyway for years.

He threw a fit,  not seeing any humor in the implication that he was growing old. It was not the reverence he had anticipated. Some sort of unhappy scene ensued, though I don’t remember exactly what he said or did. This birthday is one short chapter of our collective family legend.

My Pop would have celebrated his 97th birthday today, and even though he’s gone, I think that kit must have served him well, because he lived to just before his 88th birthday, and had no gray hair. He’d been active, done whatever he pleased until a couple of months before he died.

Memories linger. The saying on the tape dispenser’s side plagued me for years, until the approach of my own impending old age some time in my fifties. One day its meaning came to me with the clarity of a fog horn. So true, so true, I laughed. Too late. too late to make use of it now.

© 2012, Jennifer Pierce


Restarting, recharging and blundering onward

Greetings. With the change of the calendar to a new year, Nifspeak resumes. I hope to be more faithful to the spirit of blogging, and post on a regular basis in 2012. Like most of the aging folks I know, I wonder where the time has gone, and how it is I find myself writing these numerals.

It was only a blink ago that I ventured into Belfast for the By the Bay New Years celebration fof the new millennium’s arrival. My mother was, at the time, a week away from death. My good friend (sister, really) Halina and I had ventured forth seeking a guilty moment of respite from her care. I remember finding it difficult to focus on the joy of the occasion, that the scene was surreal.

How can so much life, and death, be happening concurrently, I wondered. But it does, and many more juxtaposed events have come and gone since then. It is human life, all beginnings and endings punctuated with a few rebirths, if we are lucky enough to still be present and engaged.