Business Travel

In the darkness of early morning, before the dawn glows pink along the horizon, lines form at Kennedy Airport kiosks where fingers tap glowing screens in the slow motion of the barely awake or to the staccato urgency of those behind, to input flight numbers and airport codes.  Bags roll, papers are tucked under elbows of business suits. Headphones, smart phones, Blackberries everywhere. Ahead, a conveyor belt moves in fits and starts. Shoes off, coats tossed, laptops pop out of carry-ons and are kid-gloved to security’s end. Up ahead rests the near-empty gateway to today’s workplace.

We sit on hard seats waiting for the doors to open. New e-mails stuff inboxes. We glance up to see the uniformed crew disappear down the jetway. We pack up and collect at the gate to wait in one last line. On board, we stride, stop, rush, step around, reach overhead and unlatch.  Belts click, tap, click, tap. Doors shut. Engines whir.

Rolling down the runway at last.

The flight lifts us up, then sails west into the night toward pitch black time zones. Inside, lights dim, canned air blows, glowing icons command, “No Smoking.” Our carrier is like an ancient Phoenician ship, its hull filled with once free men, three across, en route to Tyre, Sidon or Byblos. Our keepers are modern — the paycheck, the mortgage, the pink slip. Briefcases and laptops open, Blackberries glow, the morning paper unfurls. All the while, we are so small in this great vessel as it cruises westward at 275 miles per hour.

On this early Monday morning flight to California, the eighth this year, I gaze out the window toward the still darkened ground below and search the vague outlines of the shadowy landscape. There, thirty thousand feet down, I spot the dim satellite glow of a tiny, still-sleeping town. I keep my eyes trained on that cluster of lights for as long as I can while the plane hurtles forward into the deepening dark. As the glow slowly fades away, I feel my longing grow, imagining somewhere in that faint light, beneath a roof, in a house, in a room, and under the covers, you lie curled and still fast asleep.

I close my eyes as we speed further into darkness. Soon your eyes will open to the glare of another week apart.

Andrea Marcusa's work has appeared in Copper Nickel, New South, News Verse, and Ontario Review. She lives in New York City with her husband and two pet cockatiels and works in the healthcare area. For fun she tweets about the flora and fauna of Central Park (@My_Cen_ParkNYC).