I am flying on 9/11. Thinking all the superstitious people will choose not to fly today. And it’s a Monday, so perhaps only business people will be on the flight. No screaming babies.
Am flying from Bratislava to Brussels South. Naming an airport Brussels South is like naming Munich ‘Berlin South’, you’re nowhere near Brussels. I will need a bus ride and a train ride to get there. Once you step outside the airport it’s common to hear fellow travelers ask: ‘Why are we in Charleroi and not in Brussels?’ Because… Marketing.
My fellow passengers are unusally quiet. The anniversary of 9/11 and a Monday turns out to be a peaceful moment to fly. The flight attendants don’t even have to urge people to please take their seats. Lots of people are traveling alone, which helps to keep the volume down. Everybody is in ‘invisible, mute mode’ surrounded by the gravest threat of all: strangers!
The girl next to me is reading Proust. She falls asleep after about ten minutes. A family to my other side orders lasagna. One girl claiming that the quality onboard is good… not exactly a gourmand. When the food arrives it takes them longer to unwrap all the plastic than to eat it… The food itself looks like plastic. Smells like that too. Flight attendansts always ignore me. I know my ticket was dirt cheap because the other passengers can’t postpone their cravings for a mere 1h45 minutes and are willing to pay top euro for microwaved crap, but but I give off this vibe that you couldn’t even sell me a miniature, overpriced coke if my parched tongue was trying to suck juice from my socks… Flight attendants have an uncanny nose for which passengers are easy victims and which ones want to be left alone. I don’t have that much pride left, but I am proud that I never buy anything at all in these tourist trap situations and as opposed to the other people who’ve brought a book I am actually reading it all through the flight. It’s a book on
Freud. Not too complicated. It’s called ‘Basic Freud’.
There’s one traditional jew in the plane. Equipped with the obligatory prayer book. I know from a friend who’s a stewardess that flights to Israel are her worst nightmare with the most demanding, most inconsiderate passengers… She’s repeatedly described those flights in such vivid detail that am biased and from time to time throw a glance at him to see if he is giving the flight attendants a hard time. He is… I don’t know what can be explained about two small bags of nuts, but apparently you can have a whole lot of questions about those…. Is he asking if any women have handled these nuts while menstruating? I can’t be so biased… And jews have like invented psychotherapy… Still, it’s always hard to forget what I saw in Palestine, how the Israelis systematically try to get rid of Palestinians… Let’s just assume this one is one of those jews who oppose the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands… The benefit of the doubt.
Humorous bonus: if there are jews on board then Isis, the mossad, the CIA will not target this plane, since they all work for Israel.
If I have Israeli clients I will have to be extremely watchful for my countertransference process…
Near the end of the flight the girl next to me wakes up. She takes out her diary and starts writing something like a love letter in French. She’s practically shoving the journal in my face. Does she want me to read what she’s writing? Or does she assume I don’t know French? My boundless curiosity for all things humans leads me to read it. She’s been in Vienna, it’s a very contemplative text and she’s considering allowing herself to love someone. I have to suppress the urge to ask for details. Or to treat her to attachment theories. If you’re passionate about something you risk boring people.
Sadly we have now landed and the mundane process of getting home from Charleroi to a small village in Flanders now takes precedence…
After eight months in Slovakia, it’s a surprise to see black people wherever you go. Am I allowed to note that without being brandished a Trumpian KKK redneck? The train from Brussels to Aalst makes me feel like I’m in the American south or Africa. They are very cheerful, have Hollandish accents and they all seem to be college students. They have a warm, gregarious vibe that Flemish people lack. They are a reminder of how introverted I have become in overly formal, religiously straightjacketed, post-communist, humorless and neurotic Slovakia. The advantage: psychotherapy services are in very high demand in Slovakia, where the descendants of herders have only recently discovered that it might be a good idea to explore one’s feelings.
If I’m overly harsh, it’s because I’ve become more Slovak than Belgian already, being the chameleon, empathy machine that I am.
Slavic languages, my first calling, got me a wife and a great best friend, and not much else.
Psychotherapy, my second calling, got me my ikigai, and a observational state that makes even a Ryanair flight mildly entertaining.
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