Other people have told me, a thousand times, that they cannot stand air travel. They claim that it is a noxious experience fraught with danger and haste, and they cannot understand why I enjoy it as much as I do.
I don’t just mean that I enjoy the convenience, or the idea of actually flying in a machine heavy enough to rip the ground to shreds, although I do happen to enjoy both of the above as well. When I say I enjoy air travel, I mean that I legitimately love the special peace and quiet that seems to occur when the plane reaches altitude and soars above the clouds, when birds are invisible and people more so, and the entire world is reduced to one of those carpets I sat on in second grade, showing a grid of all of the streets with just a few tiny blobs for trees.
I love the feeling of adventure, of flying somewhere new. Flying with family means comfort, fewer responsibilities for me. Flying on my own feels braver. No matter how many times I do this, I have a feeling it will always feel like growing up.
I love the feeling of rapid acceleration on the ground, when my back is pressed against the seat so hard that I could not lean forward if I tried. I love the way that liftoff makes my stomach drop as we rise, proof that I really am going somewhere.
You may have gathered by now, I’m on an airplane, or at least I was when I was writing this. It’s a picturesque sky outside, clear blue with big puffy cumulus clouds all fluffed up as much as possible. They look like cotton has swollen to the size of the plane, or else like the plane has shrunk to the size of a plastic toy. Eventually the plane levels out, and the clouds become flat as we rise above them. I look out through the window to discover once again that clouds look like islands, land masses among the sea of blue haze below.
Every time I see it, it takes my breath away.
Okay maybe I shouldn’t put it that way. Airplanes and oxygen masks. Air deprivation and all.
Across the aisle from me sits a family with three small children. I overhear that this ride will be their first time flying. I smile slightly at that, curious as to what this ride will mean for them.
As we lift off, I learn that one of the children, the oldest, fells exhilaration at the flight, freedom within the confined space. He understands the magic of a machine this large and heavy being able to fly, piloted by so small a crew.
The second child simply watches. he takes it all in, clearly preparing to remember all of this experience. He does not watch with the same wonder that his elder brother does, but I’d like to think that he at least appreciates what he is seeing.
The third child grips his armrest in apparent terror. He has chosen to sit in the aisle seat, explaining that he doesn’t want to ee the plane go up. From this I gather that he suffers from acrophobia, or perhaps a fear of falling. He closes his eyes until we are aloft, and even then he avoids the window.
He is not alone. I know a great many people who feel this way about flying. For some, it is the height that causes the discomfort.For others, it is the crowds, I have even encountered people who live in terror of airplane bathrooms, or who are perpetually terrified that the overhead compartments will explode mid-flight.
Needless to say, I fear none of the aforementioned points. It’s not that I believe air travel to be idyllic– unless you have a private jet, or you’re a bird or something. But I don’t and I’m not. There is an awful lot of hassle to actually get on the plane, and I do find it irksome to be running my travel plans off of someone else’s schedule. I dislike airplane lavatories just as much as the next person does. I HATEHATEHATE when the security and check-in lines are super long, and force me to run the risk of not making my flight. But honestly, it’s usually worth it.
Now, if you’re wondering why I am on an airplane, I am flying to Boston. From there, I will be headed to Waltham, another part of MA not far from there. I will be attending the Brandeis Institute for Music and Arts, at (pretty obviously) Brandeis University. I’ll be there for four weeks, and I’ll have limited internet access. This means that I may be posting to the blog a little less frequently than usual this month. But I also get to study creative writing day in, day out, for a whole month, and I couldn’t be more excited.