You don’t expect water to suddenly go streaming up to the ceiling, a perfect rope of it. You don’t expect to see that two seats ahead of you on a plane. But it happens: the water jets up, blurps back down, the woman can’t believe what’s happened, the ceiling drips. The flight attendant catches it out the corner of his eye. His eye says hmm. My mind say uh huh, that’s not right. But it’s wiped and we fly on. Shouldn’t we be higher? What’s going on? No one notices. This isn’t 25,000 feet. This is 5,000, maybe 7,000. And then we fall, dive down and the plane banks sharply to the right, turns, turns, turns into the sun we were leaving. A few passengers furrow their brows but most keep on chatting, reading, sleeping. I’d say something to the guy sitting next to me but he’s a ghost. I take my headphones off seconds before the announcement comes that unfortunately we are returning to Montreal due an issue with the aircraft’s ventilation system, i.e. cabin pressure. But we don’t drop from the sky, at least not in an unplanned (planed?) weigh. We land. We board another. We get free drinks all the way home.
This was post-Forum. Post Montreal, McGill. The Canada Council had herded us, corralled us, milked us of ideas (no coming through slaughter) for two days. We obliged because free plane/food/hotel and we only feel whole around others like us unless they’re overly successful. But that rarely applies. They kept us together in tables and mine was Quill and Quire, Ricepaper, Canada Council, Cherie, LPG, Fetherling, ECW, Bernice, Theytus. The pixelated head of Richard Nash bobbed and weaved from a departure lounge in NYC. Outside the Forum was kindly Miss W., bringer of poetry and sustenance (and cute in a beret), and rude Asha on Valentine’s where a heart fell from the wall just missing the pakoras.
And it was cold. And I ate no bagels.