Em: I am going to look up the weather in New York.
Me: You don’t have service on the airplane.
Em: I DON’T CARE!!! I’m still going to check.
Emma took her first flight to New York when she was 6 months old. Her dad had an art show in Chelsea, and so we braved the cross-country trip to install the show and attend his opening. Some people make parenting an infant look easy. I am not one of those people. Emma was on my lap, in the middle seat, and an unlucky older gentleman was at the window beside us. He was quiet and polite while I poorly managed my not-so-peaceful baby on my lap. At the end of the flight, I thanked him for his patience. I asked him if he had children. He had four. I asked him if it ever gets easier. He said, “It just changes form.”
10 years later, I’m divorced and remarried, sitting three across in the back of an airplane. Again, we are headed to New York. This time for a DIY Alexander Hamilton History Tour. Hamilton the musical has Emma obsessed with the American Revolution. She got off my lap years ago, but I’m still sitting in the middle seat.
I got officially downgraded to the middle seat when Emma was old enough to discover that the window is a seat with a view. No actually, it began when I started traveling with Emma’s dad. He is 6’3” and needed the little extra space that sitting on the aisle can provide. Stephen too prefers the aisle, which in turn further decreases the square footage of my already undesirable seat. The middle seat: the seat without perks. Being the good man that Stephen is, he always offers to switch seats with me. Especially around my second trip to the restroom. But we all know where I am best seated.
As we boarded the airplane this morning, I heard one flight attendant say to another, “Did you hear that? He just asked to switch to a middle seat. I have never heard someone ASK to move to a middle seat before?!” I didn’t get a look at the passenger with this request, but I would love to talk with him. Are they looking to make new friends? To network? (Maybe they want to educate their rowmates on the lack of regulation in the American skincare and beauty industry.) An empty nester, perhaps, longing for the days when they could squeeze tightly between the ones they love? Someone who really digs embodying the feeling of juxtaposition?
Why don’t I just move to the window, you ask. Why don’t I take Stephen up on his offer, you wonder. I too have been asking myself these questions. As I write this piece, Emma is spread out enjoying her prime real estate while Stephen and I link arms as I type. Maybe it is that I am so grateful that Emma is not on my lap screaming, that I will give her anything she wants today. Maybe it is that I am so thankful to have found someone who loves me as deeply as my husband does, that I don’t mind the close quarters. Maybe I like to complain. Maybe I’m a masochist. Maybe I need a drink. Yes! That’s it. I need a drink.
EPILOGUE: As Stephen and I got all settled in with a Screwdriver (him) and a Bloody Mary (me), Miss. Room with a View realizes that she needs to…wait for it…use the restroom.