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Nida Spalding loves to read, travel, and spend time with family and friends. She believes that curiosity and persistence are key to happiness and success.

"Oh, wow! That's too high," I said, eyeing the baggage compartment on my Delta flight from Amsterdam to Seattle.

"It's not high! You're short," teased a gray-haired man, standing next to me. Despite my having to wake up at 2 a.m. that morning, I was in good humor and laughed as I tapped him on the shoulder.

"That is true," I said.

I heaved my carry-on into the overhead bin, stretching my neck and every muscle in my arms.

"Hmmm, you're pretty strong," he remarked.

"You're in my seat," my friend Debra informed the man who commented about my height, now seated by the window in the row behind me.

"Are you 31J?" she asked.

"I'm not 31J but this seat is." I glanced at him. Oh, a smart-aleck. I returned to what I was doing.

"There's something underneath my suitcase. . . I don't want to squash anyone's stuff," I muttered.

"It's mine." The man in the aisle seat next to me replied. He quickly got up and moved his bag to the next compartment. I thanked him. I settled into my window seat, placed my backpack on the floor in front of me and put my denim jacket and trench coat on top.

"Ma'am, you can't leave those on the floor." The flight attendant told me. Without being asked, the man, my seat-mate got up to help me stow my stuff into the overhead compartment. What a nice man.

I was pleased that there was no middle seat or seat in front of me and appreciated the extra legroom. I thought the Delta's Comfort Plus seat was worth the $139 price tag. Debra's travel agent recommended them to be closer to the front to ensure we caught our connecting flight to Sacramento. We chose window seats —supposed to be safer during the pandemic.



"Is that our TV screen?" I said looking at a small monitor on the wall in front of us.

"No, you have a screen right here." He pulled the small screen from the side of my seat. "And here, is your tray table." I knew that. He's very nice.

I appreciated that he wore his N95 mask properly, covering his nose and mouth. The US government required all passengers returning to the US to have a negative Covid-test result. Masks were still mandatory on the flight except when eating or drinking. Nobody fought against the mask mandate like the other flights mentioned in the news.

"So, you came from Amsterdam?" I asked.

"No, I travelled from Milan. I'm going home to Portland."

That broke the ice and we talked for a while. I learned he's Italian; he likes to cook. His kids and wife cook. Italian cuisine is localized. He said the Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese from Costco is the real deal and their fresh pasta is good, too. He was reading "Breakfast of Champions" by Kurt Vonnegut on his smartphone.

An hour into the flight, we were offered lunch. I chose the pasta with green peas over the chicken teriyaki with wild rice. Afterwards, a flight attendant announced the lights will be turned off and suggested we pulled the window shades to "give folks the opportunity to catch up on their sleep." I liked that. She also said they will serve us a warm cookie later. Oh, nice. And we did get our cookie.

The tv monitors didn't work. But it's just as well. I was able to close my eyes, relax and get some rest.

In the middle section to my left, I noticed a woman patiently tending to a baby, maybe six months old. As I dozed off, I heard a little boy's hearty laughter. This made my smile as I thought about my son.

~ Nida Spalding






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