The plane was full. That is because flights into Newark had been canceled for days due to a record breaking blizzard in the northeast. It was my third attempt to fly home. I had been stranded in Nashville for four days longer then anticipated.
I was ready to get home.
I settled into my seat, pulled out the inflatable neck pillow and fired up a digital version of my friend Betsy's book, City of Ghosts. That is when the screaming began.
= Many infants cry on airplanes, and it is always a bother. They start to whine and you steel yourself for noise, because you are, after all, in a tin can with no way of escape.
But this was not crying. This was screaming. Raw, unbridled, diaphragmatic screaming that only babies can accomplish. Piercing, incessant, teeth-hurting screaming. And there was nothing I could do.
It wasn't my baby. It was someone else's baby, and it was being set on fire. At least, he thought. Unhappy is too gentle a word. This child thought he was dying.
It went on for an hour. Sixty minutes. A long fucking time.
Just when I thought the baby had worn himself into sure slumber the screams would begin again. I started to understand why parents might consider drugging an infant.
At first I was empathetic to the poor mother who was sushing her child as quietly as possible, but eventually I got up and went to the lavatory solely for the purpose of shooting this kid's mom a dirty look. Not my proudest moment but I had no headphones and so was literally sticking my fingers in my ears.
The screaming was all I could focus on. I tried meditating, being present and deep breathing to calm myself. It didn't work due to the screaming.
Finally, blessedly, before I jumped out the emergency door and ended it all, he stopped. He slept. The baby had stopped screaming.
And after a long sigh the next thing I heard was an overly earnest Nashville man who discussed the finer points of the Baptist Church the entire remainder of the flight.