Airplanes Are Amazing

Today I am flying from Chicago to Boston. It is the first time in a long time that I am in a plane above the clouds. Airplanes are amazing. In one hour and 49 minutes I can go from Chicago to Boston. I am going to see my sister for the first time since December 2019. So much has happened since then. As the plane took off and I looked out my window, I was overwhelmed by how amazing it is to fly. Just before we took off a flight attendant welcomed aboard two children who were first time flyers. I don’t remember the first time I flew, but I can imagine the feelings I had at that time. One was probably fear, one excitement and one was most certainly awe. I’ve subsequently flown so many times that I don’t have any fear, but I always say a prayer during take-off and landing. I’ve flown so many times that while I’m usually excited to be going somewhere, I don’t think about how amazing it is that we can fly. Airplanes are amazing.

When you first take off you see the land beneath you and all the people going about their day. It’s such a remarkable perspective that you have for such a brief moment. It’s so fleeting that if you don’t consciously look out the window during take-off, before you know it you’re in the clouds. You see people working outdoors, driving, in parks and sometimes in boats. You see ball fields, golf courses, office buildings and homes. I often wonder what the people down there are doing and if any of them are looking up at my plane at the same time I’m looking down at them. Today as I pondered the people below, we suddenly passed through the clouds and were above them looking out at a sea of white. The clouds in the distance looked like a sea of white caps, while the ones just below me look like a gray abyss. The clouds continually change shape and color just like the ocean, which makes me think the shades of white and blue are limitless.

Where am I going with all this? I honestly don’t know, but as we took off and all this was going through my head, I felt compelled to start writing. So much in my life has changed since March 12, 2020 and I feel the need to document it. More importantly I have found that writing has helped me process how I feel about what has changed. At times I am overwhelmed with the need to write about the moment I’m in. This is a new feeling for me — this overwhelming need to write — and I find it cathartic and unsettling. As I write I discover things in me I didn’t know were there.

I’m flying to Boston to see my sister. Prior to the pandemic the longest I had gone without seeing her was 9 months. From 2009–2011 we lived in Asia and I only came home in the summer. It’s now been just over 9 months since I saw her last, but somehow it felt so much longer. When we lose the power to choose to do something that thing becomes larger and larger to us. When I lived in Asia I had the choice to fly to Boston to see my sister whenever I wanted. It wasn’t practical or affordable, but if I wanted to I could choose to do so. Once the pandemic hit, I couldn’t travel to Boston to see my sister no matter how much I may have wanted to. It’s astounding how that lack of control can impact our psyche.

In the months since I’ve seen her I’ve thought a lot about her hugs. My sister gives really long hugs — sometimes too long. She is never the first to let go. She also cries more than I do. Occasionally both of these things bug me, but they are part of the deal with her. She can cry over the phone, but she can’t hug over the phone. A virtual hug is not a thing!! At the end of this amazing flight I will get a hug from my sister and perhaps that is what is why I feel overwhelmed to write today.

We are close to Boston now, so I have to turn off my laptop, put away my tray table and return my seat to it’s upright and locked position. I’ll spend the rest of the flight looking for familiar landmarks out my window. I’ve landed in Boston countless times and know what I’ll see based on the route we take and what is visible from my side of the plane. Sometimes I’ve been overjoyed to be home and other times I’ve been despondent with grief, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so conscious of how amazing it is that I can get to my sister in 1 hour and 49 minutes. It’s highly unlikely that I’ll see my sister and her car from the plane, but I know I will see her as I walk out the terminal doors at Logan. I know that I may come undone at the sight of her and that’s ok, because it’s been too long and so much has happened. I’m ready to be overwhelmed by her hug. Airplanes are amazing.

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