No, this is not Game of Thrones ode although Dany’s wrathful flyby of Kings Landing inspired the title and thoughts. I have just returned from a sad transatlantic trip to Scotland for a family funeral. It was not unexpected but somehow it is always a shock in the literal sense. On the return trip, suffering a terrible flight with a revered south-east Asian airline, I drowned my sorrows with some unpalatable wine and wrote words on my magazine cover that conveyed how I had felt during the trip.
WRATH, GRIEF, SADNESS, REGRET, RELIEF, LONGING, THANKFULNESS, GRATITUDE, LONELINESS, RESENTMENT, AMUSEMENT, LOVE, CONNECTION, ALIENATION, BOREDOM, AFFECTION, ADMIRATION, JOY, FAMILIARITY, DISCONNECTION, HUMILITY, REFLECTION, EVOLUTION, ACCEPTANCE, IRRITATION
LOVE, LOVE AND MORE LOVE
I see my psychiatrist tomorrow and I think I will just hand him this list of words. What will he make of it? Such contradictions, so many emotions and counseling needed. Funerals are such complex occasions. Sometimes they are a celebration of a life lived well; sometimes the family gathering causes angst or the opposite. This is not the time for me to write a memorial – my feelings are too raw. For every kind comment there is an insensitive remark. It has been years since my last visit to the old country and so much has changed. I can no longer mention my country of birth, USA, with pride. Do friends and strangers really think that the course of modern politics has been in any way influenced by me? This is the plaque outside Glasgow’s City Halls were I graduated. My economics lecturer was the local Communist political candidate.
The political climate is no better in the UK or Europe. BREXIT; right wing Hungarian rule; Scottish Independence; modern day slavery in Italian fields that gives us our cheap tomatoes – to name a few. I see racism and bigotry on both sides of the pond. As I left Glasgow airport and was waiting in the check-in line, I noticed a young woman sobbing from one end of departures to the other. It wasn’t busy so I couldn’t figure out why someone wasn’t helping her. Eventually she ended up close to me and I asked her what was wrong. She was sick, had taken Nyquil the night before consequently sleeping late. She arrived 45 minutes before her Canadian charter flight departure but no-one would help her. I urged her to go back to the closest desks and ask someone to radio the charter representative.
Eventually I checked in and went to find her. We were sent from pillar to post and I eventually demanded that we see a manager. The flight had gone but at least the airline representative might be able to find the cheapest alternative to get her home. She couldn’t call them on her Canadian phone. I left her in chastened hands with the manager in route and the airline had been radioed. Who knew all my Texan airport experience would have come in handy?
At my connecting airport in England, I tripped and scraped my knees despite being sober…then. The only person who ran to my aid was one of the much maligned Eastern Europeans. A Bulgarian cleaner who spoke very little English also helped. On the glamorous flight back to Texas with flight attendants that resembled pretty butterflies, I had to complain about vomit blocking a sink and more dried vomit on the floor of a different toilet. The response was a poor excuse and certainly not an abject apology which I expected. It concerned me that they wore no aprons to serve food and inefficiently cleaned toilets throughout a 9 hour flight…and then the toilet tissue ran out. Can you imagine my upcoming complaint form?
My words are my dragon and I wish I could burn my way through the hateful climate with live in. I wish I could erase my memories of a sad abusive childhood. I wish I could forgive. I wish my self-loathing would cease. I wish I felt more joy or even contentedness. I wish I had a dragon.