En Route to South Africa, Delta Airlines Flight 200 – It’s 4:30 am Austin time and 11:30 am in Cape Town and I’m somewhere in between, the only one awake on this plane other than the oldest crew of flight attendants I’ve ever seen. They share a slowness, nonchalance and an insulated surliness borne no doubt from thousands of flights. I feel alternately annoyed and guilty, like I should invite one of them to take my seat for a while so I can get her a cup of coffee.
I was going to wait until I landed in my Cape Town hotel to do my practice, but instead decide to experiment with singing close to others, albeit sleeping others. The cabin is artificially dark, light seeping through the cracks of the closed shades.
Smiling like a child going into his fort, I turn off my light and pull my blanket over my head. I cup one hand behind my ear and the other in front of my mouth, creating a little sound booth, a technique Bobby McFerrin showed me at a workshop. With it I can be two feet from someone, hear myself clearly and be silent to them. I’m off.
My foot is protruding from the blanket, tapping time. I wonder if anyone notices. I feel internal color re-emerging, generative. It and the grapefruit wedge I ate upon waking are the two most alive things I have experienced on this flight.
Singing quietly in this way feels intimate, like I’m singing into a lover’s ear.
After a while I slip temporarily into that passive plane haze and realize my mouth is still singing something anyway, filler music. I take down my hands and use the blanket tent as my sound booth. As I finish my 15 minutes, I lower the blanket and continue singing for a while. The plane hum drowns out the sound but not the vibration in me. No one has stirred while I’ve jammed … my new in-flight personal entertainment system.