I’ve always loved flying, especially take-offs. There’s something about being pressed back into your seat, watching the buildings slide past you faster and faster and then you’re in the air! The airplane hums around you as the world drops away. It’s even more spectacular at night, with the buildings becoming geometric patterns of light. I watch the cars drive along the roads, tiny twin cones of light, and imagine where they’re going.
Growing up I flew very rarely, so each one was an event. I would look around at all of the people ignoring the sights out the window and think, what’s wrong with everyone? Why aren’t they enjoying this? These days I take several business trips a year. A while back I was taking them so often that I got to where I shuffled into the plane, began reading, and didn’t look up again until we were on the ground. One day I considered what young Stephen would have thought of business Stephen. Since then I’ve looked out the window on every takeoff and landing.
On last night’s trip, as I watched the lights of Huntsville grow closer, I thought about flying in for my interview years ago, and how I had no idea I’d someday live here. As we banked over Madison I thought of a boy curled into a little ball underneath his rocket blanket, of a baby girl wrapped tight in a blanket, of a woman listening for our garage door to open. I pressed my hand against the window and watched the runway come closer and closer.
With a squeal of tires, I was home.