So. Planes. How to summarize a lifelong relationship in just a few words? My 2nd earliest memory is an aerial view – caribou on the tundra. My parents met in Seattle and would go up to Alaska regularly for summer to hike. My dad and another pilot ran bush pilot service for scientists, photographers, naturalists, hikers. My mom and I spent one early summer in Kaktovik were 24 hour sunlight meant it quickly became clear that I needed independent verification even for the stories my parents told me. After all, how could it be 2am when it was bright as day outside? Definitely just a nefarious plot to trick me into going to bed early, and cutting tundra play time unnaturally short.As I grew up, we split our family trips between road trips to camp in Colorado, commercial flights to see family in California, and borrowing my dad’s friend’s Piper Archer to go see friends in Wisconsin. Large airports are gateways to opportunity; small airports gateways to the sky.
I try to guess the moments of takeoff and landing, pack lots of gum in case my ears lock up, and firmly believe that the trip starts even before you leave your house for the airport – not just when you land and pick up your luggage.
And for me, the journey is part of the story – the online check-in kiosque mix-up (for some reason, I do not exist…) and the time we made it from the breakfast place across town, through rental return and security, to the gate in about 30 minutes. (we even, somehow, beat the plane, if barely). Even Thursday’s overpass terror will turn into an adventure once the heart rate slows and the insurance agent has checked everything out.But the big adventures, the most magic – those long haul flights where you quietly board the flight in an empty Detroit winter and descend through clouds and mitzvahs to an airport that welcomes you home from right to left, or disembarking on a shimmering, melting tarmac to the shouts of competing baggage handlers and smells nearly as vivid as the colors.
Sometimes I think I learn the most when everything is unfamiliar, including myself.
This winter break (for the northern hemisphere, at least) my Dad will be flying himself to meetings all over both NZ islands, my brother will be crossing the Pacific for some temporary parental supervision and some good football bonding (the real stuff, none of those pads and helmets), and I’ll be looking down on the Atlantic in a few hours. If I’m lucky and the skies are clear, I’ll take some pictures.
When I get a chance, I’ll add the pictures that go with this entry, and there’ll be a some kind of gallery of plane related pictures – and I want you to tell me where you would go if you had one round trip ticket to anywhere in the world?