The plane is nearly full when the family boards. Bringing up the end of the line, a father wears an Armani Exchange t-shirt that reads not only the brand name, but also a bright red scrawl over the chest: FREE SPIRIT. It appeared a slogan not to suit as he follows a grandmother figure, his wife, and two small sons down the narrow aisle while toting a plastic two-story carpark. The boys clutch cars in their fists as they are lead to their places. The father struggles to find space for all the belongings and the huge, excellent toy. When he completes this task, he struggles around the small space of their five seats, fetching blankets, discarding trash, snagging a quick cup of water for grandma before take-off. He reaches across the aisle to put his son’s tray table up, “up,” he reminds him. “Up.” And encourages the whole brood to put the seat belts on, “on, on!” He sighs when the airplane finally gets off the ground. He shares a long look with his wife over one child’s head. He gives her a smile and a blink. He watches his oldest son slip into sleep.
The t-shirt is the story, as one might expect, but not as I expected. I pause for some shame at my expectations, my gleeful wait for irony. A free spirit makes any number of free choices. He seems rather satisfied with his.
–Flight from Istanbul to Dalaman, Turkey.