With the utmost efficiency, I unzip my boots and place them in a security tray along with my jacket. The tray lies between my laptop—in its own tray proudly embellished with a BU sticker for the world to see—and my backpack, which is packed tightly with all my plane necessities and indulgences. I slide my items along the security belt into the scanner before confidently walking through the body scanner with what I hope shines across as the assuredness of someone who is not thwarted by the lines, people and procedures. I strive to separate myself from my stressed and irritated fellow travelers as someone who is relaxed and excited. Traveling—including the airports, airplanes, and the act of flying itself—tantalizes me with the promise of excitement and the air of anonymity.
Now with plenty of time to lull around the airport and find my gate at my leisure, I purchase a coffee and stroll the shelves of Hudson News. Finding a good seat at my gate or a café, I watch. Where are they going? What are they doing? They are characters in the skits my imagination sketches up. I decide their imaginary plots.
The airplanes on the runways look like toy models. They get faster and further until suddenly I get the delight of seeing them tilt and lift away and a silly smile spreads across my face the way you might expect it to from a young child. When it’s our turn to take off, my heart flutters with excitement. I’ve done this countless times but it continues to thrill me. The speed increases as I watch the world fly by. I can feel the strength of the wind pulling at the undersides of the wings, and suddenly, we’re in the air leaving the world below far behind.
Peering down from my carefully chosen window seat, the world seems limitless. L.A. reminds me of the rug my brother and I played Hot Wheels on as kids. Massachusetts is stitched with bays and the beautiful backbone of the Rocky Mountains marking my arrival home to Colorado never ceases to take my breath away. The blanket of clouds that stretches across the pacific between L.A. and Sydney creates a beautiful air of mystery and a separation from the world below. I’ve taken off in sunset and in sunrise and I feel like they are even more beautiful from a plane. I’ve seen Mt. Rainier from the plane at its elevation. I’ve gazed at entire mountain ranges through one window. I’ve watched oceans pass below me. I love looking at city lights from above. On a clear day, you can see swimming pools and baseball fields—those are always identifiable. Rivers twist and highways sprawl. Endless lives are being lived under my watchful eyes. No terrestrial experience can quite compare to the perception given by an airplane.
A pinball at the whims of the machine that encapsulates it, the plane begins to jerk and wobble through some sudden turbulence. As the shrieks of surprise and looks of apprehension escape from those that surround me, my own face can’t help but collapse into a delicious grin. My stomach is in my throat. Adventure lies before me. My daily stresses are left on the ground behind me. My heart flutters easily in the clouds. I am at rest with the present, whatever latitude or longitude that may be.