In flying back to the US from The Bahamas recently, I had a window seat on the little 30-seater aircraft. Reaching an altitude of about 14,000 feet during the 50-minute flight, I was able to see ripples on the ocean’s surface, and a few boats. I’ve always enjoyed window seats on planes. I like to stare out and think about the people below and what they might be doing safely tucked inside of their tiny chrysalises. As our plane began its descent into Fort Lauderdale, I noticed the bright blue sky above take on a yellow hue. I thought about our stay in the islands and how I hadn’t sneezed or suffered any of the chronic sinus issues I usually endure back home in Charlotte. I thought about how in a few days the vacation would be over and I’d be back inside of the the machine – doing my own thing in the world to make ends meet so that we can continue to have a good life and do things like take vacations. I watched the haze build and darken outside my window. As the plane slid into the wall of yellow air that choked the coastline, my eyes began to adjust. By the time we landed, I no longer saw the haze, but rather the blue sky like always. Only, it wasn’t as blue as in the islands. We caught a connecting flight to Charlotte and I noticed the haze grow thick again as we approached our hometown. Home. After a couple of weeks away, we were all looking forward to sleeping in our own beds – despite heavy hearts from leaving paradise. I thought about how the haze was a perfect metaphor for the machine of American life. And when we landed, I sneezed.


Jim Mitchem

The Island
Rainstorm in Tuesday Traffic

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.