Band of travelers

Published 10:31 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Riding in the Boeing 747, the 163 passengers seem unperturbed at their plight of being 25,000 feet above the earth’s surface and traveling 469 mph.

On the left side, two rows from the front, in seat 2B, sits an elderly lady trying to read Better Homes and Gardens. Wearing bifocals, she occasionally glances up, revealing her lack of interest in the reading material. Wrinkles are evident wherever skin is exposed, her small frame leaving much of the seat unfilled. Her countenance evokes seriousness. Let’s call her “Louise.”

Back in seat 24C sits a 20-something man, head back, earphones inserted, seemingly unaware of his seatmates. His straight black hair falls loosely over his collar as his left foot and index finger tap to an invisible beat. We’ll call him “Jonathan.”

Up in first class, an overweight man in an undersized suit sits leaning to one side, head propped on a small pillow. With puffy cheeks, closed eyelids and a wrinkled dress shirt, his husky breathing can be heard at regular intervals. His shined shoes sit pigeon-toed as the large seat appears a natural fit for his spacious body. Let’s call him “Randolph.”

Back in 12A, a teenage girl seems enthralled as she peers out the window, occasionally whispering to an adult lady on her left. The teen’s brunette hair frames her small featured face covered with abundant mascara. Her tilt toward the glass exposes a lower backside on which a multicolored-butterfly tattoo seems to flutter as she moves. Let’s call her “Amelia.”

Finally, last row back, all three seats are filled in random order by a 30ish female and two small children. The adult lady, in hushed tones, reads a picture book to the disinterested children as she glances at her watch. The flight attendant comes to her aid as she accompanies the youngest to the restroom and returns. Perhaps “Fran” will fit her as the plane starts its descent.

Upon landing, the small army of humans seems to immediately start its disengagement from each other as the mad accumulation of clothing and overhead bags begins.

At the exit gate, all semblances of connection seem to disappear.

“Louise” is met by a man and a woman and two small children. Her serious countenance exhibited throughout the flight dissolves as the young ones envelop her legs with small arms and she falls in the couple’s embrace.

“Jonathan,” his gait increasing, greets an attractive young lady who, in spite of the paraphernalia carried by the man, plants a passionate kiss somewhere between the nose and the chin.

“Randolph” simply walks through, oblivious to the crowd, headed toward the men’s room.

“Amelia” and her escort are greeted by a tall man with graying hair. He stoops to give her a hug as the three of them spontaneously delve into lively conversation.

“Fran” appears to have just completed a marathon as she encounters a young man about her age who scoops up the two children and throws an arm around the young woman, heading to baggage claim.

It appears the aerial bond that seemed so strong 30 minutes previous has become but a thread, unraveling by the minute as each passenger departs.

And so this band of tight travelers, confined for two hours in compact quarters, disintegrates into separate paths, never to see one another again.