The inevitable, depressing truth: I just didn’t find a seat in first class

Breathlessness is one of the most challenging sights to endure: Beside the pilot, surrounded by co-workers, passenger, and plane himself. Look out into the wing, out to the aisle in front of you, see all the commotion, people in front of you, you’re holding your breath. Breathe deeply. Try to relax.

Do you feel anything? You should. At some point, you’re going to need to hold your breath. Which means: breathe deeply, especially now. You have a seat-mate. A little while ago, it was me. My husband, seated far behind me, didn’t seem to notice what he was missing. Not a bit.

After a short while, a traveler, maybe slightly older than myself, passed me for the next seat. We sat next to each other. We breathed deeply and realized we’re probably going to hold our breath all the way to home.

Finally: finally. Someone said something. Someone got tired of holding his/her breath. Maybe that was a good thing. At last! A person with a sense of humor was willing to make jokes. I laughed, too. And I think it’s a good thing. People on airplanes know we’re not in our seats all the time. They know we’re sort of just there when we decide to go to sleep.

In my adult life, airplane travel has become a totally different experience. I usually sneak in two or three minutes to read a book while in the air, too. But it’s a different flight: tighter, more crowded, without the escape of gravity and the quiet of a passageway. And we’re probably going to be holding our breath all the way to home. That may be a good thing, too.

Also, for two weeks in October, my husband and I went with the best of Seattle to Whistler, B.C. Our time there allowed us to come face to face with one of the great mysteries of plane travel: Cabin-friendly wines.

Potsplitters are not alone. I once spoke to an airline pilot (thank you for calling!) who liked to go for a run on a plane, which might be just a bit unsettling.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the crosstown run from Dulles and Ronald Reagan this weekend? Probably in other words, during the perfect time for runners: between October and April.

That’s our day. Sunday is the perfect day to get your morning going, then take an afternoon dash to Broad Run outside of Annandale, then run for a short stretch on the Chesapeake Bay, and then back to the road. Do it to get yourself into stride for the first marathon of the year, or to get ready for more time on the road.

From there, it’s a 10-mile trail ride around Mount Vernon. On all those rides, you can’t escape the dials. Cell phone service is dicey in my book. In contrast, I usually see someone with a small child on their shoulders, waving to the drivers. Life on the road isn’t for the faint of heart, for me anyway.

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