The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore


Then sound broke the sky open.

Yesterday, I put my oldest boy on an airplane by himself. Did you know they make you wait to leave until the plane has left the gate with your particular unaccompanied minor on board? I didn’t know this. I was about to walk away and continue on with my day. I thought I might get an expensive coffee and I had two This American Life podcasts queued up on my phone for the ride home. But the very nice Delta agent said, “You know you have to wait until they take off, right?” so I stayed. I settled into a window seat (after specifically not embarrassing my 13-year-old with hugs and kisses and stern admonishments to have fun and don’t be so good all the time) and watched the scene outside: a man in a neon vest cleared his snow-covered windshield with two bottle of water and then drove over the chocks (it took three tries) and across the tarmac. Then I watched four machines spray what I assume was deicing chemicals on the plane that contained my son and I thought for a while about the environment and how T’s grandchildren will probably be born half reptile because their not-too-far-back ancestors used lots of deicing chemicals to fly away on vacations. Then I told my brain to knock it off and quit being so pessimistic. Then I watched one of the eight television screens in my view, all of which contained well-dressed people with shiny hair speculating on whether or not Chris Christie was going to suspend his campaign at the news conference he’d called for later in the morning. And then the plane drove away and I wondered if I was really supposed to wait until it was in the air, or could I leave after it had driven out of sight. There was no one there to ask. I waited for a little while longer. T gets his deep and abiding respect for rules from me. Then I left.

I passed a mom on my way to Starbucks. This mom was younger than me. She had an infant strapped to her torso and a toddler strapped to a suitcase on wheels. It was a very smart setup. For a brief moment I flashed back to the time when I, too, had to strap my children to myself or other moveable objects to get them from here to there. I considered feeling nostalgic. But then Starbucks loomed and I just about skipped my way to the short line and realized I didn’t have to talk to anyone I wasn’t handing money to for at least the next three hours.

Sometimes airports hold the strangest of joys.

Also, today we all got to hear two black holes colliding a billion years ago. That’s pretty great news. Totally beats anything from anyone’s campaign and renews the hope I try to harbor for my grandchildren’s grandchildren. Have a listen.

3 thoughts on “The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

  1. 1) I love that photo; 2) On a plane by himself? Wow; 3) “I didn’t have to talk to anyone I wasn’t handing money to for at least the next three hours” <– bliss; 4) Black holes colliding ❤

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