October 28, 2022 | CULTURE | By Anya Jones | Photo by Maren Greene
This day starts on a plane. I am sitting in the window seat so that I have something to look at while I listen to the playlist of which I will certainly skip most of the songs. By sheer luck, the middle seat next to me is empty.
In the aisle seat is a man, I am guessing he is in his late 20s. Shabby, unkempt hair is shielded by a hood. He has AirPods in. It’s 6:30 in the morning. He looks like 6:30 in the morning. He probably got up at 4 a.m. to drive the 30 minutes it takes to make it to the airport.
He is not stressed (he doesn’t get stressed in airports), but he knows he could not miss this flight. He must be going home. He looks like he is going home rather than he is home.
Originally, I presumed he may have flown out here to visit a friend (he could spare a few vacation days, and he hasn’t seen David in a while). Or, potentially, he was sent here by way of his job to conduct some sort of on-site data analysis. But everything changes when halfway through the flight, a woman who he definitely arrived at the airport with comes and sits in the empty middle seat.
My world is briefly turned upside down. I solve part of the problem by deciding that they bought their plane tickets separately and checked into the flight at different times. She checked in later than him so was therefore in a later boarding group and was therefore pushed to the back of the plane.
However, the latter statement makes no sense because she would have passed the empty middle seat in between me and my friend here…
So perhaps she and this man are related. They came out here for a family reunion or under less-than-ideal circumstances and their collective exhaustion of the events of the weekend (and of each other) drove her to the back of the plane in search of a window seat so that she had something to look at while she listened to a playlist of songs (which she will likely skip through most of too).
What I cannot explain is what drove her toward the front of the plane to take this middle seat where she is now resting, facedown, with her head between her folded arms, over her tray table (an act I have been far too afraid to commit for fear of the weight of my bulbous head breaking the fragile thing).
She must have gotten lonely. She exchanges few words with the man. They have a silent agreement or an emotional syncopation because when she put her head on her tray table, the man lowered his to do the same (he was previously letting his head free fall and bounce back every which; this is a good decision for his neck).
When the plane landed, both of their eyes opened very slowly and they stretched as best they could in the restricted space of airplane seats. The woman sitting in the aisle seat across from the man jumped with surprise when she made eye contact with the woman who came to sit in the seat between the man and myself.
“What are you doing here?” The woman asked. “I got cold back there!” The woman responded.
To which my immediate response was no, you didn’t. Airplanes are climate controlled so it is the same temperature everywhere. Did you check your personal air conditioning vent?
This made me reconsider her relationship to the man. She came to the front of the plane not because she was cold but because she wanted to sit next to him.
By this point, I had exhausted too many potential relationships and the addition of the third woman only further confused me.
I’m open to suggestions.
I am now at Colorado Coffee. I got hungry upon my return to campus so, naturally, I ended up in the closest thing this school has to a convenient food option. I have a bagel and a Chobani yogurt in front of me. I decided to eat here and catch up on some work. Those who come to Colorado Coffee around 2pm on a Sunday are far and few. It is the late risers who have missed Rastall’s brunch. It is those who are in their second block of neuro who needed to stretch their legs for a proper smoothie rather than their usual barely-meal from Susie B’s.
It is a small conglomerate of the lacrosse team debriefing their night over lightly colored iced drinks, dressed in athleisure. It is the solo artists who frequently come to Colorado Coffee because they have figured out that ambient noise and an unpredictable combination of people makes for a highly conducive study environment. After an hour or so watching the odd assortment of people filter in and out of the small space, I return to my room where I then begin to write this article.