Occasionally, when I drink, I start to write. I often believe that the writing is profound, in a Truman Capote kind of way. Then, I show it to Eric after, he reads it, shrugs his shoulders and I realize it was quite possibly, complete crap. Because when a writer drinks, often times, it’s crap.
On our way from Abu Dhabi to Dublin, we flew sheer across the Gulf. Something I have never done during the day. We were flying home to family, for a funeral, and certainly not the most celebratory of trips.
That may have been why I had two, very good pours, of whiskey before 11 am.
Eric joined me. At least I was not drinking alone.
There was part of me that enjoyed the banter between Eric and I. The discussions about our seat neighborhoods, the other people who boarded the plane, the fact that there was a window in the bathroom of our Etihad flight. I think that we each relished the moment where we could pretend that this was a normal flight, a normal trip to Ireland, instead of a rushed, last minute booking to celebrate, and bury, someone who Eric thought of as a brother.
I recognized how strange the flight was, even as we pretended to be normal. Eric noticed that I had become fascinated with the landscape out the window. As we made our way north, we flew over Kuwait City – so much beige, and in complete contrast to our landscape in Bali.
Then, the map function on the Etihad entertainment system told me we were crossing over Baghdad.
I am an adventurer, a traveler. At least I sometimes pretend to be. I knew my chances of ever setting foot in Baghdad were slim to none. Just flying over the legendary city was enough for me.
The flight path followed the Tigris River, another geographic spot of legend. I realized that, perhaps, I am not as much of an adventurer as I thought.
Ed, Eric’s cousin who we were heading home to say goodbye to, was an adventurer, way before we were. Climbing to base camp of Mt. Everest, having his stuff stolen in Thailand, driving across the US so many times it made us embarrassed of the fact that he, an Irishman, had seen more of the US, than we did.
I knew when we landed in Ireland we would be surrounded by green – the lush green countryside of Ireland, that we had grown accustomed to seeing over the last half dozen visits. But, for those brief moments, while flying over some of the most dry, and beige, landscape I think there is, I realized how far we had traveled. From our rice paddies in Bali, across the desert of Baghdad, up the Tigris River, across the entirety of Europe, and back home to Ireland.
Was it the whiskey talking? Did I have a point? I was not sure. I tried to settle in to the in-flight entertainment. I tried not to count down the hours until we landed in Dublin. I tried not to think about the family that waited at the other end, about the conversations, the condolences. Instead, in a strange and eerie way it was easier for me to think about Baghdad – some place so distant, so remote, and yet so personal to so many people.
Maybe the whiskey made me brave, made me think that I was a legitimate writer. Maybe I thought I was being insightful. Maybe I was just numbing my pain, Eric’s pain, and tried to make it seem like something more than just another flight where I drank a little free booze and fell asleep, dreaming of Ireland. Maybe, I was just another writer who thinks that when a writer drinks, insight, and an explanation of the universe will pour forward.