I love airplane bathrooms, and airplane seats. I even love airports.
And before anyone asks, I don't know how much of loving airports is organic and how much of it stems from watching Love Actually so many times, but I don't care. All the people, coming together. I like it. I read Up in the Air this past year and found myself wishing I had a job that required that much traveling.
And I realize if I did have such a job I probably wouldn't like it very much. And yes, I do get grumpy during long layovers. I get frustrated that my plane is delayed. I get mad when I can't find a decent cup of coffee. I wish the Wi Fi were free.
But, listen: for me, all that frustration melts away during the take off.
I used to think it was obvious that everyone likes the take off. The way everyone loves sleep. Or breathing. But I guess it's not true, because I have now been on several flights where my seat mate goes to sleep before the plane even takes off. There he is, sitting next to this window, with his earbuds in, and his eyes shut. And me, trying to crane my neck around to see any bit of the landscape between the wing tip and his forehead and nose.
It drives me crazy.
And I know, logically that these are nice people who did not intentionally and maniacally chose the window seat in order to waste the view. I also know that people aren't going to switch out of the window seat before a flight just in case another passenger loves looking out the window more than they do.
But I've been flying for three years now and have still not gotten tired of watching the ground get further and further away. I will gladly give up a window seat for a friend who is also excited about the window seat, or a stranger who has never had a window seat (especially a child). But to sit sidekick to someone who doesn't so much as glance at the world outside the window is agonizing.
On a flight this past week from Chicago to New York I was in the middle seat. The man in the window seat shut the window shade and settled in to read a magazine. Defeated, I took out a book and tried to read.
As the plane began to roll I kept my eyes politely downward, but when we hit the runway and picked up speed I reflexively stared out the nearest window, trying to see something - anything, from my odd angle.
The man noticed me looking and then he looked too, straining with the effort. Then, as if it just dawned on him, he opened our window shade. It was just in time for us both to watch as the ground became a blur and then a patchwork quilt.
I smiled but he didn't look at me. He was looking out the window.