B27

I'm hungover, in the middle seat of a flight I shouldn't be on. I shouldn't be hungover, either. Last minute pre-flight dinner with a friend led to pre-flight drinks, which led to more, which necessitated a Change of Plans. So, fourteen hours after I should have been on my way, I am on my way. And lest the world shake its collective head at my irresponsibility, it was a friend I very rarely get to see. (Shake your head anyway, I'm sure I deserve it for some other infraction.)

Flying makes me strangely emotional, I guess because it means I'm either on my way to or from a loved one - in some state of anticipation or denouement. Usually exhausted, too. By the time I get my seatbelt buckled and phone switched to airplane mode I'm already gearing up for some serious in-flight feels. Liftoff, soundtracked by whatever song I've had on loop lately, does me in. I gaze out the window and sink into a sickly self-indulgent state of sentimentality. Wheels go up, tears come down.

I'm not crying today though. Just in a reverie. And a middle seat. (O Southwest Airlines, you unwavering model of populism!)

Here's what I want to know, as I sip my ginger ale, elbows carefully tucked at my sides. (I am nothing if not a polite middle seater.) When someone wonderful loves us, are we made more wonderful by their love? Does association with good, kindhearted people make us better? I think so. I fucking hope so.

Last night my friend - someone who's seen me go through some shit over the years - pried open my chest, pulled out my heart, and applied a little first aid. A pep talk of sorts, that boiled down to You're okay. You're gonna be even okay-er. Hold your head up. Now let's finish this wine. My friend is probably a better person than me. Harder working. More giving and forgiving. I don't know that I'll ever catch up to the best people in my life, in terms of their humor and grace. And when they share that humor and grace with me I desperately hope it's rubbing off on me. Teaching me an easier way to get through tough times.

Which this particular week, all things considered, is not. Middle seat hangover notwithstanding. T-minus 1:07 until we land and I get to peep some motherloving leaves in the mountains of northern Georgia. When the sun rises, I mean. First thing's first.