“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


The Joy of Flying

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I flew to another state to visit a good friend last week. I used to love flying. So why did they have to ruin it? – "they" being the terrorists, I suppose. They're like the kids back in school who misbehaved and resigned us all to the fate of recesses spent inside with our heads on our desks. I mean, really – it's humiliating, taking off your shoes and shuffling along stocking-footed in a public place; taking off your belt and holding your jeans up so they don't fall down. Thank goodness they didn't want to frisk me. That would probably have been the last straw; I might have turned around and gone home and never made it to her place.

I remember the time when your loved ones could walk right up to the gate with you, and watch through the window as your plane left. If you were lucky enough to have a window seat on the appropriate side, you might even see them waving. And perhaps it's just movie-induced romanticization, but catching up with someone at baggage claim just doesn't have the same effect as seeing them waiting for you at the gate as you step off the plane.

There is one part of flying, however, that they can't ruin for me. It's that moment – especially on a cloudy day – when the airplane breaks through the clouds into the blue sky and you find an entirely new world above. It can be cloudy, rainy, ugly weather on the ground, but above the clouds it's eternally sunny. On a thickly overcast day (like the one on which I flew home this week) the clouds below look like a vast expanse of snowy fields, forever unmarred by human footsteps, gleaming in the sunlight. That moment is my favorite part of flying, and it is the one reason that I still love to fly.



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