Wait Seriously Where Are We?

Leslie Kleinberg Zacks
5 min readDec 1, 2022
View from my window seat at JRO Kilimanjaro Airport upon landing. (Photo is property of the author)

So Interesting news- I’m still a really shitty flyer.

Anyone who has traveled with me has the early-onset arthritis in one hand from me mangling it in terror. Sometimes it is someone I know. This time it was a nice but unlucky young South African man whom I pressed into service mid-way across the Atlantic.

“Sorry,” I said as I violated all personal space and gripped his lower arm across the empty seat between us. In the dark the 787 shook violently. “I just…need to dig my fingers into another human to get through this.”

He didn’t miss a beat and just mutely patted my hand like he’d known me his whole life. I pretended not to notice that he was wearing a hunting jacket because we can’t always pick our heroes. Fifteen minutes later when the plane resumed it’s normal benign course I thanked him, but he was wearing headphones and didn’t seem to need an explanation. Intimacy is weird between strangers but we went back to pretending we weren’t sharing a ridiculous small space for hours on end. Gods bless him.

Once landed in Amsterdam I had four hours before meeting Carrie for our final eight hour leg to the east side of Africa. I considered getting a hotel at the airport, desperate as I was for just a little motionless sleep, but eventually settled for a quiet corner in one of Schipol’s famous retail areas. It was five AM and the place was deserted except for my fellow bleary-eyed zombies who had deplaned from parts unknown. I stretched out in an abandoned corner and passed out with my legs draped over three chairs that were doing a lousy job discouraging public sleeping.

I woke two hours later surrounded by crowds of very awake people slurping coffee. They discreetly pretended not to notice me as I removed my sleep mask and tried to locate one of my missing earplugs in my bra.

I stumbled through the airport, checking the monitors multiple times to be sure my Xanax-addled brain really was headed in the right direction while carrying an uneaten…something…I don’t remember what. Somewhere along the way a cappuccino appeared in my hand and then finally out of nowhere someone was saying my name.

Carrie was doing better than I was. Whether it was adrenaline or just her natural positivity I couldn’t tell, but we only had a few moments…

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Leslie Kleinberg Zacks

Writing about whatever I feel like. Mom with a career. Filled with love and rage. It’s cool- I’m not for everyone. twitter @lesliezacks zacks.leslie@gmail.com