Everyone’s been very…

Everyone's been very kind to me today, from the ladies on the subway who gave me directions to JFK, to the shuttle bus driver who noticed that I hadn't gotten off where I was supposed to, to the people at the checkout counter and doing security at the gate. I think I must look very tired. I am very tired, but I perhaps look even more pathetic than I feel because I am wearing my enveloping black sweatshirt with the hood that I find very comforting and that I rather disappear into. Sometimes I feel like a kid dressed up in grown-up clothes. Sometimes I feel very much older than that. It's interesting. I was a long time at security because everything I wore, including the metal bits on my boots, seemed to be setting off their alarms. There was time for the several security guards to comment both on the length of my hair, and how much silver streaked through it. They kept exclaiming, "But you're so young..."

I'm on the plane now, typing until my battery runs out. After that I plan to look out the window and think, until I get bored, and then read or sleep. I bought a new P.D. James mystery, that I expect to enjoy. The only worry is that it'll be too depressing to cope with when I'm tired. But I can always sleep. Unlike most people, I usually manage to sleep okay on planes. Maybe it's because I've been on them so much.

My family did a lot of travelling as I was growing up. I emigrated to the U.S. from Sri Lanka when I was two, and for a while, we were flying back there every few years to visit relatives. Very long flights -- usually passing through Amsterdam, flying KLM (which gave out very good chocolate and fuzzy slippers to everyone). I'm not sure how my parents managed -- we were pretty well-behaved children, but still...I'm not sure I'd be willing to take a few small children (my sisters are, I believe, five and nine years younger than me, respectively) on a flight halfway across the world. On the other hand, I'm not sure it would have occurred to them not to.

I know people who have never been on planes. Some haven't been able to afford it, some have been frightened of them, and some just have never had occasion to go. I have trouble imagining that. I love flying. I haven't gotten airsick yet (I think few people do, in big planes -- it's the little planes which get tossed around by turbulence that you have to watch out for), and I seem less plagued by horrible earaches than I was as a child.

It was a plane ride that inspired my first story, actually. "American Airlines Cockpit", based only slightly on a flight that Lisette and I took to England (yes, on American Airlines), where she rode white-knuckled beside me. Poor chica. Luckily they have free drinks on international flights, and she was fast asleep reasonably quickly, with the teddy bear I'd gotten her still clutched tight in her fingers. Phobias are strange. Elissa was over last night, and I went out onto Alex's balcony, and she didn't follow me. She's scared of heights. I never knew, though we were roommates for quite a while. Me, I'm somewhat claustrophobic. Egyptian mummies weird me out. And a lack of fresh air. I don't think I'd do very well climbing through caves. Oh, I know the word for that and I can't remember it right now. Spelunker. That's it. What a cool word.

Waiting for take-off. The lady in front of me has just pushed her seat back all the way, jamming my laptop into my stomach. Oof. I have slid my seat back to compensate, a partial solution. Perhaps once everyone has settled, I'll move to a more comfortable seat. Or perhaps my battery will die by then.

The air is so dry here. Perhaps they should run humidifiers on planes, something to keep your skin from itching from the dryness, and your head from hurting. I drank some mango nectar, but I can tell that I'll want more liquid soon. It's not always this bad. Tower Airlines runs cheap flights from one side of the country to the other, but they are certainly not the most comfortable or well-equipped airline. I wouldn't use them for an international flight longer than a hop to the U.K. from New York. Too annoying.

I didn't do anything really touristy in New York this trip. The only mildly touristy thing was that Alex took Yuko (new girlfriend) and I to see a Broadway musical, Chicago. It's an old classic, revived, that I had never seen before. It was fun, if pretty light, and there were some good songs (if you like musical songs). There was even one I'd danced to in my high school jazz dance class, "Razzle Dazzle" -- we heard that song so many times, as we ran parts over and over, that I learned it by heart. I imagine we all did.

It'll be so good to be home. It was enlightening talking to the Melcher Media people, and wonderful meeting Shmuel in person (we had lunch at a kosher restaurant and talked for several hours), and great getting to spend a little time with Bryan and Elissa and Tasos (too little!) and Alex, not to mention everyone before New York, but I'm so very tired. I think I'll be spending Christmas with Kevin's family this year, which means I don't have to leave California, huzzah! I can stay there for the rest of December, and do a little temp work, and rest. I'm really looking forward to it.

I hope everyone's having a good weekend...I plan to take mine fairly easy. Lots to do soon, though -- Christmas cards and cookies, a tree to get and decorate, a little party to plan, a few more presents left to buy. I love this time of year, I really do. And I'm going to drive my friends nuts singing Christmas carols constantly. Many seem to find them annoying (perhaps because the stores blast them all the time), but they remind me of Christmas as a kid.

It's funny -- I'm not religious at all, but that makes absolutely no difference to my ability to enjoy singing Hosannas at Christmastime. And really, the more religious carols are usually the more beautiful ones:

Angels we have heard on high, softly singing o'er the plain,
And the mountains in reply, echoing their joyous strain:
Gloria....in excelsis deo,
Gloria....in excelsis deo.

4:25, east coast time, half an hour later, ascending to cruising altitude:

It is so beautiful here. I'm sitting over a wing, and the sun is directly to my left, hanging there on the edge of the wing, with the clouds beneath us lit in white and gold. I take it for granted so often, and then suddenly I remember, I am amazed and awestruck that we can do this. That we can create this fragile metal shell and fill it with our bodies and send it up...and that it has become routine, that it is safer than riding in a car -- isn't that amazing? It makes me want to laugh out loud, for sheer pride in humanity. With all of our problems -- still, we can do this!

Someday, I'm going to learn to hang-glide. I want to fly in such a way that I can feel the wind against my skin, feel the power and terror of it, know exactly what sort of deaths the Wright Brothers were risking at Kitty Hawk. Know a little of what Icarus must have felt. No wonder he flew too high, and melted the wax of his feathered wings and plunged into the sea. Wouldn't you? Wouldn't you be tempted, at least?

8:05, west coast time, after many many hours of travelling:

Prayer for Safe Haven

The plane circles the city high and low,
searching for the break in the lashing rain,
the moment when the gathered winds must wane,
so we may circle down, down to the shining glow

of a city's winter light. Time drifts so slow.
Time enough to pause, consider pain
and love, and touch. So long since we have lain
our bodies down -- is it with fingers so

that once we touched? Your hand beneath my breast,
my lips that traced the line of collarbone,
sliding down, down to the city's heart...

or was it yours? The sun set in the west
long hours ago. No stars -- so quite alone
we circle down. We join, and someday part.

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