She unscrewed the cap on her Coke and it “fff’ed” as air escaped.

Inflight turbulence, she reckoned. The captain had warned them at takeoff. People were unusually silent; each, no doubt, finding their own way to relax. They had descended early to fly under the turbulence.

The relief was almost tangible, as tangible as the connecting walkway that lead to the terminal, when the pressure was off.

Suddenly, she realized the pressure was off her, as well.

Was it the pressure, the inflight turbulence that caused her muscles to tighten and ache? that had released and dissipated as easily as the air from her Coke?

Whatever it was, it was gone.

“What’s the name of your book?” she asked, redirecting her thoughts and her gaze to her husband of 28 years who was intent on the book in his hands.

“Dealing with difficult women,” he said, lifting his chin enough to observe her reaction while he feigned concentration.

Doubtful, she thought, smiling ruefully. “I’m sorry? What was that?” she asked, playing along, as if she hadn’t heard right the first time.

Dealing with Difficult People,” he answered matter-of-factly—truthfully this time.

Hmmm, she thought. Then, countering playfully, “Am I a difficult woman?”

It was a loaded question, but he hesitated only momentarily, long enough to watch her squirm a little, but not long enough to cause substantial doubt.

“Some days,” he teased back. “Not today.”

She knew him well, the mischievous, boyish grin beneath his greying moustache; his blue eyes rimmed by laugh lines and the wink that let her know it was all in fun.

She sipped her green tea and settled her thoughts, once again absorbed in the peacefulness she felt.

Turbulence comes and goes, she thought. Life takes off and you never know when the “seat belt sign” will flash on, when you’ll have to buckle up, sit tight, breathe deeply and wait it out.

At times it seems that is all you can do: to wait it out; and at times, it seems like the best thing to do.

“Don’t you think I did well on the plane?” she asked, her question rising like steam from her simmering thoughts.

He smiled. “You did awesome. Absolutely awesome.” Which she had.

She had prayed and sat back, willing herself to breathe and relax, while she found some thing, some place, to focus — anything, anywhere but the window beside her. She had pulled the shade purposefully and then sat in quietness, with as much confidence as she could muster.

A thought occurred to her just then, a revelation: In as much as it was possible, she would welcome peace, she decided. She would entertain it as though it were a most-treasured and welcomed friend. Not clung to, but held gently, encouraged faithfully and kept loyally.

If friends were treated like that, she thought, they would always return.

“Do you think I’m a welcoming person?” she asked.

His eyebrows arched in surprise, but the answer was quick to follow.

“Welcoming … Yes,” he said in a tone that was solidly affirmative. “You look at some people,” he continued, “and they have that go-away, don’t-bother-me look. You don’t.”

It was a compliment, one that sank down somewhere deep and felt as comfortable as an amply stuffed chair, like the wing chair that cradled her back home. She was satisfied. She was, for that moment anyway, a persona grata.

This moment, this feeling, however fleeting, was one to soak in, until they hit another air pocket … turbulence.

Love and life are like that,she thought, prone to turbulence that was mildly to severely nerve-wracking. At times, it’s safe to get up and move around, to stretch and relax; and at other times, well, you’re safer in your seat, buckled in, breathing deeply, waiting it out.

And, like the Coke, there were times when their relationship, as well, needed a pressure release.

She watched him as he focused on his book about difficult people, his brows furrowed in thought, head bowed slightly, although she knew he was aware of her gaze. It was as if he could feel her presence there, a silent comrade who shared these moments. The silence between them was comfortable and was broken only periodically by snippets of gentle teasing or by thoughtful comments.

They were friends come what may—in this, together. She smiled at the warmth that wrapped her heart in that last thought.

He glanced up then, his eyes holding hers for a moment … for moments … for an eternity.

They smiled at each other. It was a smile they had shared for 28 years; and the turbulence, the pressure, the cares of life, were all but forgotten, escaping like the air between them, invisibly, until it was just the two of them and time suspended in this moment they shared.

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