Of Airports & Single-Serving Friends: An Old College Essay

Before traveling, my first true love was writing. I love words, love the science of putting them together and the art of expressing yourself with them. Inspired by Throwback Thursday (that thing is all over Facebook), I was looking through posts on my old personal blog and found this - a paper I wrote for my Modern Lit class in college. We were tasked to write about any of the poems we had discussed in class, and I chose Yvor Winters' "At The San Francisco Airport", about a father who accompanies his daughter at the airport to see her off as she heads for college. I thought it would be interesting to write the daughter's point of view of the moment. I thought of my dad as I wrote it - he works away from home and I live away from home as well, so we are used to regular hello's and goodbye's. I like to think of goodbye's as see you next time's.

So anyway, I wrote about what I thought would be the girl's thoughts and realizations while on the flight, after bidding her dad goodbye. The coolest thing about this paper is that when I wrote it, I had never ridden a plane in my entire life. It's personally amusing to think that not so long ago, I was a little girl eager to see the world. Now I'm still a little girl, still eager to see the world, but thankfully, I have seen more of it. I hope to see even more of it as I get older.

This post is becoming incredibly cheesy. Read my college paper under the cut, if you dare, and remember that I wrote it in college - I was young and naive. I'd love to hear what you think!


The sky is a hazy shade of red, and the sun slowly sets as I embark on this journey I chose to take. The stewardess hands me a cup of coffee – I remember how you always said I shouldn’t drink coffee, because it’ll hamper my growth. You also said I wouldn’t like it. When through my persistence you let me have a sip when I was six, I realized how you were right – I hated coffee then. Now I drink coffee practically everyday, and everyday I remember you and what you used to say.

The stewardess hands me a pack of single-serving sugar and single-serving cream. It’s just like in that movie – apparently everything in the “real world” is single serving, and hardly anything lasts. Now, among the clouds, I am amidst strangers. The middle-aged woman beside me has a tired, dazed look on her face. I think she’s afraid of flying – the sounds of the engine and the slight bump at take off made her gasp loudly, as if she was taking a plunge into icy water. Ironic, isn’t it, how flying can feel like sinking sometimes? I try not to disturb the woman so I turn my attention to the person on my other side. He is much younger than the woman, but older than I am. He has a business magazine open on his lap. He looks at me, smiles, and asks me where I’m headed. “I’m off to college,” I answer. “You?” The man says he’s on a business trip. For a while we engage in conversation, with him mostly talking about his college life and how he misses it and me absentmindedly nodding and smiling. Perhaps in a plane trip, where everything is single-serving, strangers can become at least single-service friends as well – you have your time together after take-off, and before the plane lands both of you know that you’ll never see each other again, and even if you did you wouldn’t remember each other. I got that from that movie again, the one you didn’t want me to see, remember? You thought it was too violent, too serious, too grown-up for a little girl. But I insisted on watching it, and unlike the coffee, after I did, I really liked it. Now it’s like I can relate to that movie and it feels a bit weird that way – it’s like that saying, of how life imitates art, or is it the other way around? I never could remember.

I’m a bit frightened. I didn’t tell you this before the flight, while we stood looking at the planes at the airport, because I was worried you would stop me from leaving if I told you. The truth is I’m a bit scared of what’s out there, and of having to venture into it on my own. I put on a brave, excited face and it’s not that I’m projecting a lie – I feel like I have enough courage to do this, to take this journey, and I am excited, but I can’t deny my fears. Mostly I’m scared that maybe nothing in the real world is real, that nothing there is sincere, that like in my plane trip, nothing in the real world is true enough to last longer than a single-service something.

But you, I know I can rely on. I feel your love everyday and it gives me courage – courage, say, to venture on my own into a journey I must take. Know this: that I didn’t leave home to get away from you. If anything, perhaps I’m leaving to be on my own so that one day, I could come home and feel the great happiness of being with my family again. You know how they say distance can make the heart grow either fonder or colder? I have faith that my leaving will only make me fonder of my family.

One day, it will be my turn on the other side of the fence, and I will be the one saying goodbye to a daughter. Perhaps only then will I truly understand how you felt when you let me go on my own. That’s just the way it is, see – eventually everything comes full circle, so that a person is once a daughter, excited and anxious to be on her own, and suddenly she’s the parent, anxious and frightened about letting go of her daughter. After all, weren’t you once in my place too?

The captain announces that we’re about to land. I smile and nod for the last time at the final words of my single-service friend. The stewardess takes the coffee cup and the empty single-serving packs of cream and sugar. The woman beside me prepares to take a plunge again, as I myself get ready, but not to sink, and instead to fly. Ironic, isn’t it, how a plane’s landing can signal the beginning of a person’s true flight? When I do realize the truth behind my fears, that most of what’s out there in the real world are single-service somethings, I’ll be back sooner than you think. And even when the real world turns out to be this great, amazing place, my reality is with you, and it’s you that I will always come back to, because I know our lives will remain intertwined forever.
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