I stare out my tiny heavy paned window quietly as we climb to 35,000 feet. The cabin pressurizes with cool air blasting, and the low rumble of the engines keeps us pressing onward. Around me, a dull drone of passenger’s words travel, like them and their luggage, all placed on this flight, were their various worlds intertwine with one another, until the plane lands and all of us aboard move onward with our individual stories as we live our lives.
It’s fascinating to me when we connect with others through moments of happenstance, when our busy lives briefly connect and share within other’s stories. Since arriving to the airport and plane, I met a few enchanting people. A lovely couple sat by me from Washington, as we waited for our plane at the gate. The wife shared about her love for painting birds after seeing a rendering of Ansel and Georgia I busily worked on as we spoke. Another woman, whom we sat next to in our aisle on the plane, excitedly shared with Dan about her granddaughter’s swimming competition and how she traveled to Portland to watch her compete. She then shared about her life in Juneau, explaining what a great place it is to live. All of these conversations happened before we even passed snow-capped Mount Hood, rising through the clouds.
Six-year-old free fall:
As I look out over the wind and into the clouds, I think of the times when I was a little girl, wondering if I built a pair of wings long enough, if I would one day be able to fly. I remember waking from dreams of me flying over my hometown, over the freeways, looking down at ant sized cars traveling in our Los Angeles suburb. I remember thinking, if I just had wings, I could fly right over the mountains to reach the ocean, than have to meander around them and through the canyons of Malibu. I remember my sixth birthday. I woke up thinking that this in fact, was my time to fly. I climbed up our brick and stucco Jacuzzi wall in our backyard and jumped as high as I possibly could, flapping my arms, so that my guardian angel would for certain lift me, and CRASH! I stumbled off the ledge, as I had jumped high, but not far enough out and came crashing down with bloody cuts, tear-welling eyes, and a battered bruise on my pride.
I did not give up on flying. Years after my 6-year-old “flight” had ended in a disastrous free fall, I still dreamed of flying. In my dreams at night, tucked safely in my covers, I devised plan after plan of fashioning my wooden wings that would stretch across the skies. I even remember asking my dad on the way home from our weekly 7eleven run to get our “Saturday Slurpee’s” “Dad, how many balloons would it take me to fly?”
My Jamaican wings:
Five years ago, my brand new husband and I set our sails to the island of Jamaica for our honeymoon. While we were soaking up the sun and swimming in the crystal turquoise waters, I had my sights set up in the sky. I saw the parasails, and I wanted to fly. Hands intertwined, we walked along the sand, the water playfully lapping at our bare feet. All of a sudden, a speedboat splashed up with three smiling Jamaican men. My eyes scanned the boat… “Parasail” the side read. “Want to go up in da air?” One man asked. I smiled, grasping his hand to climb aboard. My husband scrambled on board behind me, quietly fuming some choice words as his face began to pale. He grasped my hand and scolded, “Jen! You don’t jump on random boats with random Jamaican men!” He was probably right, as Jamaica was listed at the time in the top three most dangerous countries to travel to at the time. I responded with a coy smirk, ” Well, I am going to parasail, we are already on the boat, so are you coming up in the air with me or what? “
Furious, he muttered he didn’t have a choice now, and my poor husband was filled with as much fear as I was filled with excitement! We strapped our harnesses on and made our way to the edge of the boat. We gained momentum and up sent our sail like a balloon, and soon after, we were towed along. Higher and higher we climbed, my husband’s knuckles now white with fear, cutting off circulation of my own relaxed hand. My eyes filled with sights of the ocean below, and I excitedly pointed out our resort and even the jungle below. “Dan look! It’s the whole island!” I glanced over, and he hadn’t even opened his eyes! “Dan! We are flying! This is the closest thing we will get to flying until we reach heaven one day, so open your eyes and look!”
“Well, I’m really angry that we might be going to heaven sooner than I anticipated!” He managed to squeak out with his eyes scrunched shut.
“Daniel James! Open your eyes!” I don’t know how I did it but I finally convinced him. And we sat in our harnesses silently in awe. It was so peaceful up there. I was so surprised how quiet the air was. W could hear muffled sounds from down below, but up in the air the atmosphere is silent. I had finally been given wings big enough to help me fly. For 7 glorious minutes.
I don’t know how this fascination for flying began, or if it is even gone… Perhaps it has morphed into tangible ways I can ” fly”. Through writing, composing music, and creating artwork, my soul has grafted its own wings and allows me to boundlessly soar. With Blue Plume Studio art lessons, I love to daily watch wings attach to the souls of those whom I teach, and watch them soar through their artistic journey. Through my love of birds, I am able to share in the freedom of watching them take flight. Owning doves has brought me so much joy as there are so many metaphors their gentle spirits and wings encompass. I find inspiration in their flight, transferring symbolically in my own life and the lives of my students.
As I watch the metal wing as it soars now 35,000 feet over snow capped and sun kissed mountain ranges pointing to the silhouette of the early evening moon, the wheels decent prepare for landing. I reflect on these young memories of trying so hard to physically fly on my own. Now that I am grown I realize I was flying all along, I just didn’t realize that as humans, our feet may stay grounded, while our souls fashion themselves to fly.