At 16, I flew to California, leaving for good,
a first for me, as I had never traveled by plane.
It was one of the coldest days of winter,
the windchill bringing the temps down to single digits,
and Long Island’s wet winters freeze your bones.
January 17, 1977, I boarded a 747 to LAX from JFK,
with a box of mementos, a suitcase of flannels and 501’s.
I sat in the way back, the last seat, nothing behind
when I felt the wave, the suffocating notion,
“I’m in a tube, oh my god it’s a tube!” and
there was nowhere to go, no place to catch air.
I stripped off my flannel, only a thermal undershirt,
and cooled off, popped a white or blue or red,
I don’t remember but the thermal shirt was white.
And when I opened my eyes, I saw the guy looking
My row mate, only two of us, was watching me,
well, maybe my white undershirt, my bra peeking
through the thick cotton, like my head, light and warm
And when I next opened my eyes, I heard a faint voice
announcing, “Welcome to Los Angeles.” I was home.
I flew. I panicked. I slept, I awoke. The world blinked.