The First 24 Hours

We were in the car, and I was hungry, and I thought about that instead of later: my family dissolving into the crowd, me alone at the airport bar drinking a $9 pint of cheap beer.  Looking out the window, I could see nothing but the blinking light from the plane’s wing, and I said over and over: I am flying over the Atlantic Ocean drinking a cup of tea; I am flying over the Atlantic Ocean eating a piece of chicken.  I’d never flown over an ocean before, and as the plane landed, I was Christopher Columbus, that old thing.  In stories they focus on his awe instead of his fear and fatigue.  On the train I held my hat in my lap in case I needed to throw up.  I slept the first day and become a man made of shadow at night.  The wind against the windows aching to get in, I counted lights click off across the street until there was nothing but my reflection, glassy against black.

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