I’m still traveling, still on the plane to Australia’s Gold Coast, still in Business Class on Qantas. (They haven’t yanked it away from me as I sometimes worry they might – “I’m sorry Ms. Klapwald. There’s been a mistake. Would you please come with us to economy.”)
I’m enjoying myself and steeped in the luxury of the flight. I’ve dined on a lentil and lamb stew and I want the recipe. I’m about to recline into my sleeping pod, and flatten it as far as it will go into a bed. Flight attendant Esther comes by and hands me a bottle of water. The bottle is made specifically to fit into the ergonomic holder built into the seat near my shoulder. The bottle of Dasani I purchased at the airport won’t fit in the holder. It is bulky, inelegant in comparison to the Qantas-designed water bottle. This inconvenience should annoy me. Instead, I shout a silent “huzzah!” to Qantas’ industrial designer wherever that inspired soul might be.
There are a lot of nooks built into the seat: a shoe cranny, a knob that pops out for the breakfast menu, a magazine rack by my shoulder and a reading light tucked neatly away, too. I am impressed by this deliberate and thoughtful use of space.
All of these things would doubly impress my son Wolfgang were he here with me. At age four he finds wonder in the most ordinary things because he is seeing them for the first or second time. He would find new uses for the spaces, slipping his stuffed bear into the shoe rack, or placing his markers in the bottle holder. He would take out all the magazines, redistribute them around the cabin, and fit his own books in the slot. He would make a tent out of the heavy cotton- and wool-lined blanket and collect as many pillows as possible.
I snuggle into my pod. I pop in my earplugs. I put on my sleep mask. When I wake up, we will have crossed the international dateline. My travel companions on the plane and I will immediately have lost a day. I know Wolfgang would be as confused about this as I am. I can hear my son asking, “Where did the day go?” Part of parenting is answering ridiculous questions. What would I tell him? “‘They’ say you get it back at the other end.” If I tried to show him the details on a calendar I doubt he would agree. In fact, I don’t agree. I’m sure I won’t see that Wednesday, May 23, 2012 ever again. I know I’m a day closer to Australia but I’m also a day further away from my son and husband.