I love flying and I love airports. I love the excitement of flying to a new adventure and I love the feeling of entering an airport to head to my comfy home after being gone a little too long. The excitement starts with the packing of my bags and carefully choosing what goes into the suitcase for my adventure. I lay everything out as the days tick closer, and I add and take away things from the pile, as I seem to always initially want to bring a little too much. The packing is part of the fun and the more you do it the better you get at it.
My excitement mounts as we leave for the airport. We live a little over an hour from the airport, and as anyone will tell you, I leave way too early and get there way too early. We say goodbye to the nice person we talked into giving us a ride to the airport, do our final hugs (it’s usually one of my kids), and my steps lighten as I walk through the big automatic doors and step into the hustle of travelers milling to find their airline, their gates, and check in.
It is a very diverse group. You see every age, every race and a mixture of young adventure travelers carrying everything on their backs, to business people dressed to impress. You see wealthy and poor, families doing their best to herd their children to their destination and old folks moving slowly, hoping to visit relatives or have an adventure of their own. The people watching is amazing, especially guessing people’s stories.
Being early allows me to be relaxed in my check in and going through security. We fly enough that we have the pre-check area where the security is not quit as onerous. I would never want to be one of those crazy people that are running late and practically miss their flight. That is too stressful. It would take the fun out of the journey. I do not mind spending time having a little food or drinks at the airport and people watching. We also work a lot and so having a few hours to relax, and read or talk to each other is a nice break and part of the beauty of escaping our daily lives. We sometimes go over our itinerary or look at maps for our adventure and make sure we have everything we need.
When it comes time to load the plane we are ready and the excitement starts to peak again. I take my seat and arrange the things I need to keep me busy while in flight. Despite being a real type A most of the time, I seem to take on a different internal relaxation and I am no longer in a hurry once I board the plane. I am ready for the down time and the relaxation of having nothing to accomplish during the flight other than enjoy myself. I have an iPad for movies, iPod for music and magazines, snacks and gum for my ears, although we have flown so often we are good at clearing our ears as they pop from the altitude.
As the engines rev and the plane slowly starts to move my heart beats faster, and as the plane sits at the beginning of the runway and then the brakes let go to propel us into the air my heart soars with the plane into the clouds. To fly through clouds is indescribable. It is the feeling of almost lightheadedness and weightlessness as if being released from our earthly bonds. I love sitting by the window and watching the clouds go by. Flying on a beautiful sunny, puffy cloud kind of day is the best. I have occasionally had dreams where I can fly, but this is the reality of flying through the blue sky ever higher and even going right through clouds. It is amazing what you can see from the windows. Rivers look like narrow snakes winding for miles, you see the beautiful checker board of the Midwest farm fields and the mountains and I’ve even spotted the Winslow Arizona crater.
When Joe is with me we take turns at the window, but the reality is that the middle seat is fine with me if Joe is by the window, because I can lean way over him looking at the beauty out of the window. I don’t mind sitting close to strangers. Either they are in their own world and they barely talk or they are the kind that are fun to get to know a little, before settling into movies or other entertainment. I have learned a lot from strangers over the years in airplanes.
Certain flights stick out in my mind. I have a favorite memory of a flight from Christchurch, New Zealand to Bluff, New Zealand on its southern most coast. It was a beautiful puffy cloud day and we took off about noon. It was a short flight of only a couple of hours, and our plane was small with propellers. New Zealand air has the coolest looking planes. They are black, and the smaller ones with propellers look like palm trees attached to the wings. As we loaded onto the plane we were of course in the best of spirits possible because we were on vacation and in the middle of our great adventure. We were having a fabulous time in New Zealand and therefore stress free and eating the best foods and drinks, with no work to worry about.
Attitude is everything. As I settled in, I put in my ear buds and I had the window seat. As the engines revved and the wheels left the ground, I was listening to Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears. It was reaching its loudest and I even turned it a little louder as we took off. I love the speed and I love the calm as the plane lifts. I was looking out the window at the clouds as we flew higher through the clouds. There was no one else in the world except me, my thoughts and my experience. They talk now about being present in the moment. I was not only present in that moment in time, but completely enveloped in it. That moment in time is pressed in my mind and more importantly in my soul to be a part of me forever. I cannot hear that song now without thinking of that glorious day and that smooth take off from Christchurch and how I felt as if I could rule the world in that most precious moment. I will never forget it.
I love airplanes and I love airports. I love flying to my adventures and when I am road weary and nothing but dirty clothes fill my suitcase, it feels good to enter that last airport to head home. I check my bag for the last time, hoping that all of my treasures I have bought on vacation do not make it overweight, and as they accept it I sigh a little sigh of relief and settle in for the flight home. There is no place like home, when you have fulfilled your itinerary and seen and done unexpected and beautiful things.
Flying represents our ability to leave our worldly jobs and earth bound life and explore beautiful and exciting places by soaring through the clouds. It is not just the destination that is important when you travel; it is the journey as well. The journey itself is a great part of the experience and the airport launches us into our adventure and it brings us back home again. Appreciate the journey as much as the destination. It starts with the excitement of the airport to fly you through the clouds on your way to discover yourself and live in the moment.