I am in the air marveling at the beauty beneath me, Also desperately wishing that the windows were cleaner. I love traveling. I really do. All parts of it all the time? Of course not. No one loves all parts of anything all of the time. But even though I can remember some pretty bad travel experiences, they are still interesting stories and I learned things. And it is something that I have done, conquered, survived. Something real. And obviously temporary so was it actually that bad. Not from this side of time.
I am starting to wonder if traveling is in my genetics. It’s possible. In some species the desire to move around is genetic but I know of no human studies to that effect.
If you know that my father lives about 10 minutes away from the site of the house he was born in and has lived that close for most of his life you might wonder at the genetic component of wanderlust. But if you consider the trip to Japan, the safari in Africa, the pilgrimage to Israel, the cruise around Europe, owning property in Honduras and maintaining homes in at least two homes simultaneously since before I was born…you get a clearer picture. My mother for her part was no less mobile and in fact was a part of much of the above in addition to moving hither and thither with her family as a child. And this really goes back several generations at least. At around the great-great-grandparent branches of my familial tree all of my individual family members picked up and moved to a new place with a hope of better things and no particularly discernible plan. Somewhere along the way my grandparents and then my parents showed up and then there was me. Born into the body of a vagabond. The apple does not fall far from the tree…except that this cliche gets all confused in this case.
I took my first plane trip when I was 4 months old. I don’t remember it but my mother’s curly script tells me that I was the perfect baby. All smiles and well complimented by the stewardesses. I recall a time when smoking WAS permitted on the aircraft and in the lavatories and it was not a federal offense to tamper with smoke detectors because they hadn’t considered that yet. I remember when all airlines offered meals. Getting bumped to first class and getting real silverware and a free pack of playing cards. My first time meeting a pilot and looking into the cockpit full of dials and switches and buttons and magic. I remember the thrill every time the plane took off and the rush at touchdown when the brakes kicked in. I remember pointing out planes flying near us to my father and asking how fast they were traveling, getting lessons in aeronautical physics from someone who would know while simultaneously experiencing the forces acting on me. I remember lightning storms and rainbows, sun devils and deicing processes. I remember losing baggage and sleeping overnight in airports and getting sick at cruising elevation while in between countries. I remember finding out via voicemail on a layover that my father’s passport was denied and he would be meeting me in Honduras the following day and having to call 5L in a panic to get some details figured out. That 2 year span where every flight meant being selected for a “random” screening likely based on my name and connection to Boston. . I remember seeing a shark off the coast of an island when I landed in the Bahamas and dolphins playing in the water when I took off from Boston. The Pittsburgh skyline on a perfectly clear night and seeing my neighborhood from a commercial flight for the first time. What I remember is enjoying adventure every step of the way.
Now I am flying to Denver with plans for the first time to actually leave the airport after I get there. Denver is quite possibly my favorite airport but I can’t wait to see what lies beyond the TSA checkpoint. Is there bitter sweetness in this trip? No more than in any other trip I suppose. Each journey is a door opened and another shut. You cannot be in two places at the same time. Trust me that if it were possible I would do it on any occasion possible. In many ways this is my last big hurrah before I start an 8-5 schedule. In my first year I can look forward to earning just almost 5 days of vacation. When you compare this to the past two years of spending perhaps only a third of the time in the place I call home this is a drastic difference. An abrupt stop. No more flagrant gallivanting. But I have been eagerly waiting for this trip for nearly a year and hoping to visit some of my friends for many more than that. How can this not be joy and adventure. And when I return and “force my wandering to subside”, I am returning to a home that a treasure. I place I genuinely want to be. This is a blessing. So too is the 8-5 I begin in a few short days.
You see the reason I started writing this in the first place was the unimaginable beauty of the earth from the air. Pure and simple overwhelming awe. Clouds like no other clouds have ever been dappled across a view of roads and fields and ice and humans and everything. At this moment the sun is piercing through a thing filmy cloud layer and reflecting violently off of an irrigation canal. You will never see exactly what I have just seen and I cannot capture it for you in words or on film or some other creative media. I am sorry for your loss. Truly. Through the clouds I can see a world cast in black and white. Is it ironic that I think we might be over Kansas? Snow covers everything that is not necessary for man to move from place to place and these all happen to be dark in contrast. Here is the exception, a lake until recently frozen over but now thawing and cracking from the center outwards. You can almost imagine the world exploding in to pieces from that very spot.
In a few days I will begin a challenging job where I will have to learn fundamentally new techniques in a hurry and I will never be able to stop learning and changing and evolving. I have been promised that I will never be able to coast. But I have also been promised that I will spend my days seeing the wide world in a view from the sky. While I scan for bad pixels and other tasks that would be mundane if considered in isolation, I will see birds in flight, motocross bikes caught mid-stunt, the myriad colors of fall and myriad other wonders captured from a fleet of planes criss-crossing the globe. And I already recognize that the individuals who I will be learning from are likeminded because they saw fit to mention these things in a simple interview. I can look forward to a folder filled with thousands upon thousands of images of note collected by my coworkers who are also captivated by the beauty of the world from the sky.