I look across the airplane aisle at the girls. They are watching Tom and Jerry. I think they have only ever seen Tom and Jerry on these planes from one mid-size European city to another. The younger one watches with wide eyes, a smile threatening to break through the sweet pout of her mouth any moment. She is a mouth breather and she has a small cough. She coughs sometimes when she is about to laugh. I wonder if it will develop into something worse, but for the moment, she is fine enough.
The older one is pissed about returning home. She is worried about school and stress and how I nag her about the clothes she wears. Tom and Jerry do little to distract her. She watches the cartoon with her mouth pulled tight across her braces in a scowl. Her eyes are hard. I want to pat her on the leg to remind her to breathe. She forgets to breathe when she is pissed. I want her to watch with the sweet abandon of her younger sister. But I don’t say anything at all because I know that I will sound too judgmental. She is right. I am too judgmental. In the end, I say nothing. The plane lands and we take the bus home.
The next day, I am waiting in the line at the bad grocery store. I am pissed because I prefer the small markets in Mijas where we vacationed, even though I had to visit three grocers in the Spanish village to find enough rocket to make a decent salad for our dinner party on the terrace. In Amsterdam, we can’t even fit eight people into our apartment, much less our terrace. My lips pull tight against my teeth, and I even may have forgotten to breathe.
Not wanting to judge myself, I silently criticize the woman in front of me for her anemic basket of white potatoes and sugar free cookies.