I sit between two strangers in the stratosphere between Newark and Denver. In the plane’s window seat, a young man reads The Habits of Seven Highly Effective People and encourages me to read it, too. He tells me he’s twenty-one and has begun reading books. Then he offers to adjust the window shade in whatever way I prefer. He asks how I can knit and read. I demonstrate how to do a knit stitch.
On my other side, a man is headed to visit his son. The three of us share pieces of why we’re flying, little scraps of our complicated stories. As we begin the long descent into Denver, the man to my left shares that this date is the third anniversary of his wife’s passing. He shows my seat companion and me photos of the slate and copper memorial he made for his wife. As his camera roll unfurls, glass conservatories appear. He builds these custom houses of copper and glass across the country.
The plane lands, and we exchange good wishes for our different journeys. The Colorado sunlight streams in through the window. Tired, I lean on the setback in front of me. We’re in a vessel of metal and glass, too, not so pretty as the stranger’s creations, but just as miraculous.
The Denver airport is suffused with sunlight from overhead skylights, too. I stand beside a potted tree, talking with my daughter about her plans for giving blood for the first time the following morning. Crowds part around me, looking up at the timetable on a screen, parents herding their little children. The line for my next flight forms. All of us are coming and going, joining and separating. I say goodbye to my daughter, walk to my gate, and head back up into the sky in that metal craft.