It’s 11:49 on Tuesday night at SFO. I hope the advil kicks in soon, my neck and head are killing me. I look like a zombie right now, dark circles under my eyes and limp hair. I think my face is showing a little wariness. It feels like everyone is looking at me incredulously. “You’re traveling by yourself?” “Aren’t your bags too big for you?” “Be careful… be careful be careful” is what I’m hearing. So I’m listening to it. It makes me feel small though, already like a victim, and that is it’s own danger too. The thought of going home to my safe comfy bed, waking up in the morning to the sun creeping across the walls, the pink clouds…its enticing, but just a thought.
I found, literally, a metal cubby hole to hide in from the stares of the chipins (nickname for Guatemalans) who also waited for the plane. Airports are so dreadful sometimes. Also, internet is $6 + .10 a minute. I can’t believe the airport in SFO doesn’t have free wifi. I am editing this from a dark hotel room in Xela, Guatemala, where I am staying for $5.00 a night, and there is free wifi here. Listen to me! What a grump, what else can I bitch about, let’s see…my ipod is unfixable. So I’m listening to music from my computer out loud, and these people are just gonna have to deal with it. The XX is sexy and fun to listen to. I have bad posture from computers. I’m tired. I guess don’t have much to complain about at all, life is pretty good.
Did you know they have shower facilities here at SFO? They’re called “freshen up,” which pardon me, reminds me of a commercial for douche. It would have been nice to take a shower though. God I’m so tired. Why did I eat that cookie? Why close the showers at 11pm? This is the quality of my mind in this state…
We board the plane at 12:40, people are still looking at me like I’m crazy which makes me feel like there is a secret I am not being let in on. Oh well! I asked for a window seat and the woman sitting on the aisle moves away after I am seated. Again, do I smell bad? It’s entirely possible and even likely. But that’s okay because I feel much better about lying down across the seats in my aisle without a middle-aged Guatemalan woman appalled and sternly looking at my head nestled near her thigh. I pass the f*** out.
Dawn is incredible from the plane, the whole sky is pink, orange, yellow, red and you see the glimmer of the sun over the curved arc of the horizon. There is something profound about witnessing the sun, and the earth, and the intimate relationship revealed between the two when there is nothing between them. Swaths and slivers of color. I am the kind of groggy where you think you’re awake but you keep waking up, and realize that you are uncontrollably falling asleep sitting up. The breakfast cart arrives and I am excited. I’ve never been given a reason to be excited about eating on an airplane. But for some reason I continue to be excited when the cart rolls up, perhaps its the surprise of not knowing what’s in the box! The gentleman says to me in a kind tone of voice “Do you want pancakes?” and I, thinking… wheat… ask him “What’s the other one?” He shakes his head “There’s only pancakes.” I smile, say “Okay!”, and wonder in amusement why then he posed this as a question.
He then asks what I’d like to drink, I ask about the tea, wanting decaf, which seems to be confusing to many from Guatemala. He offers me two tea bags with caffeine. So I change my request to “Just the hot water, and a water then.” I can see why that might be confusing, so when he asks “Coffee?” I clarify with a friendly smile, “No, two waters, one hot, one regular, no ice.” This interaction is in no way annoying to me so the fact that it draws on only makes the smile on my face grow larger. He doesn’t want to believe that I want two kinds of water. He thinks he’s not understanding me, and I can tell he really wants to get me what I want. He asks again with incredulity “Jugo de naranja? o manzana? Orange juice or apple juice?” “No, just the waters.” “Coffee?” “No, thank you though!” Finally he relents and gives me these two cups, looking at me intensely as though to monitor my reaction and see how he’s done.
Now that I am here I think I understand this interaction a little better. In Guatemala they call soda “agua gaseosa” or gas water. But soda is not bubbly water, it is bubbly water with an ungodly amount of sugar in it, and if it is drunk like water it leads to diabetes. So perhaps when I said water, he just thought I intended another beverage. I wonder if the fact that they call it water, and do not perhaps think of it as being qualitatively different from water, contributes to how much they drink of it and the subsequent health issues…. surely that must be part of it.
Anyway. Pancakes, on a tray with something in else under a shiny cardboard box with an image of sliced glistening cucumbers. For some reason I thought that the image of cucumbers might indicate that there were vegetables underneath, cucumbers perhaps. But that would have been far too obvious! To accompany my pancakes, under the green glistening cucumbers, is a cinnamon roll. Of course. And yogurt mixed with berry syrup, or rather, berry syrup, dressed with yogurt. Ever the optimist I think to myself that hot pancakes with butter sound way better to me than dry cold cinnamon roll with lots of sugar, so I open the cellophane over the black box and am delighted to find not butter but applesauce with raisins to go with the pancakes. The grand total of sugar for this meal is 8.57 kajillion grams. That is not an exaggeration, it is a fact. I read it on the paper underneath the meal where they enthusiastically retold the story of how they sought new ways to add sugar to the meal of breakfast by replacing eggs, meats, vegetables, and anything savory with other things that could be vehicles for refined sugar. Okay, that’s maybe not so much true. I eat the pancakes dry.
At this point I’m still ridiculously tired, so you don’t need to feel bad about laughing that when I open the yogurt, which is bloated with pressure, using the corner facing me, and berry yogurt splatters on my face, in my hair, and, as I later find out, but not before plenty of other people surely notice, on my coat and in my eyebrows. To my left I have a majestic sunrise over green jungled mountains with clouds snaked through their labyrinth of canyons. To my right there is a Guatemalan man across the aisle unabashedly staring at me as though something funny didn’t just happen, as though I didn’t just open a yogurt container in the one way I shouldn’t have and am sitting in stunned silence with yogurt in places I haven’t found yet. If I can enjoy this, surely he can too, no?