Monday, November 10, 2014

Don't Make Me Fly

If you've got an hour or so I could list
all the reasons I don't care if I ever got on another airplane.
It's a long list.
I'm not afraid to fly.
Not at all.
My dad retired from the airlines after a 35 year career. I took full
advantage of my free-pass privileges over many, many years time.
I went places. I saw things.
I ate great food.
Later, I traveled on business.
Went lots more places. Saw lots more things.
Ate lots more great food.
I was privileged to experience so many, many things as a result of all the travel.
I lived in absolute wonder each and every time my plane touched
down in a new city and I looked out the window of a rental car or a cab
or a hotel limousine and thought to myself
"Wow. I can't believe I'm here."
I met people.
I took pictures.
I journaled memories; a thousand memories.
And now I'm done with it.
One day as I was sitting in an airport lounge, waiting for yet another flight home,
 I noticed the bottom seams around the edges of my suitcase
were worn and the zipper was a little wonky. I can't begin to guess how many
miles I'd rolled that thing through airports, carrying everything I needed for the coming days.
I sat there and stared at the suitcase for the longest time.
It was clear, I'd have to replace it.
Or quit flying around.
So I quit.
I was tired of it.
Time was, so often, of the essence.
Now it isn't.
I want to see lots of things.
But I want to see them from the view down here on the ground.
I love road trips.
There are a couple things I do miss, though.
A couple things I love about flying.
The first thing I love: the people I met.
Yep, I am that annoying person that sits next to you on the plane and strikes up a conversation.
Relax, man. I'm NOT the annoying person who persists after you've politely
made it clear you want to...nap. Or read. Or just stare out the window.
I'm really, really polite.
I'm also a bit of a screaming kid whisperer.
I used to sit in the airport lounge, waiting to board my flight, watching for moms
traveling alone with kids. That's tough duty and I've put in the required hours over the years;
I raised kids; I flew with my kids lots of times.
I've got my Mom in the Airport Badge and I'm not afraid to use it.
I'd spot the moms and if they had a screamer on their hands
I'd try and work my way to a spot beside them and help them with the babies.
Flying isn't a whole lot of fun when you're a little kid.
Air pressure hurts your ears and makes you cry.
The space is crowded.
The noises are funny.
People are weird.
There's nothing to eat but those dang Cheerio's your mom poured into a Ziploc
bag and when you throw them all over the plane, people look at you funny.
Yep, I'd sit next to those kids and engage them with my ability to draw kittens and bunnies
and dinosaurs. Or I'd invite them to play a game of connect the dots. Or sing about ducks.
Or let them play with my car keys. I was flying with my beloved little 3-year old granddaughter
one time when the plane had a service call and we sat at the gate, buckled into our seats
for five hours. FIVE hours. With a 3-year old and no food.
We played connect the dots.
Like, forever.
She was happy as could be.
(Did I mention it was five hours?)
Yep. I'm that good.
So I just like to step in and help a weary mama out.
Maybe it's weird, but I always thought it was fun to turn a little
scrunchy frown upside down. And it was fun to make the children happy, too!
There is one other thing I really, really loved about flying.
I loved how I would get up in the wee hours of the morning
and it'd be raining and gloomy and even as the morning
progressed there was nothing but a grey, drizzly world to behold.
We'd all file onto the plane
after taking the last final sips from our Styrofoam cups of lukewarm coffee,
buckle into our respective seats,
lean back, close our eyes and pretend to sleep until takeoff.
Some days it took five minutes.
Some days it took less.
I always looked out the window during takeoff.
Outside the window is where the magic happens.
Up, up, up we would climb
with that funny sound and pressure kind of thing that you feel
when a big airplane is working it's way up to a cruising altitude.
We'd disappear into the clouds, fighting our way through layer upon layer
of cumulus whatever-us, still climbing.
And then....all of a sudden the nose of the plane would break through
with the rest of us back in the cheap seats close behind
and in a moments time we were cruising in brilliant sunlight.
bright and ever-present in a way the earlier darkness
suggested just wasn't possible.
In the dark, wee hours, it felt like the layers of darkness
would just last forever, yknow? Like maybe God had played some cruel trick
and stolen it from the sky.
Not at all.
We broke through, leaving the dismal clouds and cheerless weather below us,
 cast off like a heavy blanket to the earth's floor.

I loved those moments.
I savored those moments as some of the best ever.
My breathing deepened.
I had to squint because the light, in contrast to the somber shroud
we'd left behind was just so intense. 
Like rebirth.
It was so wondrous.
So amazing.
So real.
That's something I miss about flying.
But I carry the beauty of those breakthroughs with me.
And sometimes the memories of how darkness always, always, always 
is overcome by the light
 comfort me as I wait for my own sun to shine again.

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