Crosscheck and Arrival

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.

6 thoughts on “Crosscheck and Arrival

  1. Awesome.

    I fly the same way, even though it’s not often; I can’t ignore the wonder of flight, not for a moment.

    I love the feeling of coming home. It’s a great thing to be able to evoke true emotion in a person with your writing.

  2. I used to not like flying, thanks to some latent acrophobia. [Pause for a moment at the juxtaposition against my chosen career field. Okay, moment over!] But yes … it can be an enjoyable and wondrous experience.

    What I enjoy most is explaining to nervous fliers—especially kids—how the plane works. Talking it through usually helps me get over my own fears [which are borne out of the acrophobia and control issues that I have 🙂 ].

    Nothing ever quite feels like landing at home, though.

  3. See, I have always enjoyed flying and I have more than latent acrophobia (it is bad enough my palms sweat looking at heights on the TV). I suppose I have not done enough traveling yet, but I still always watch the takeoff and landings. I even spend a fair amount of time gawking out the window during flight if it is not too cloudy.

  4. I especially love night flying, with all the lights glittering below like a chaos of diamonds.

  5. No matter how many times I fly (and I fly a whole lot), I always get this little thrill when I feel the plane leave the ground and take flight. I think it goes back to my love of flying as a child.
    I also get just slightly choked up looking out the window when I’m coming home. I especially get that way when I’m on business travel and I know that Sean’s waiting for me just past security. It’s a great feeling.

  6. my flying experiences involved crossing over the pacific ocean and playing musical airports… all i remember is the struggle to try and sleep through entirety of all flights so i don’t have to smell stale oxygen, bad airline food and deal with feeling queasy… oh and the joy of finding 3 unoccupied seats so i can stretch out… but i still do miss the lights of hong kong’s skyline along the peninsula and the northern coast of hong kong island with little ferries floating across the channel, its lights making it look like little toys when landing at the old kai tak international airport… but oh god that sudden drop they have to do before landing, how i hated it! (the old airport was situated in the middle of the busy suburb of kowloon tong in kowloon and the runway was midget sized, hence the need for pilots to make such sudden drops to attempt to land…)

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