It occurred to me on the flight back today that the trips to Europe tend to be made overnight, i.e. in search of the sunrise, but the flights back are all chasing the sunset, such that it feels like I went through the longest day. I saw the sunrise at around 7:30am in Rome (six hours ahead of Eastern) and watched it descend over Atlanta as I left Hartsfield between 5pm and 6pm…. Weird!

You may have guessed, I’m back in the states. I could go into heaps of boring details, but by and large I’ll spare you. I went to bed early last night, such that I had literally prepared to put my head down when a new room-mate showed up. The most timid creature I think I’ve ever laid eyes on. I told him my name and barely got a peep of his, “Thomas,” and decided that I’d continue with the sleep process. Within seconds of head hitting pillow I was out. Got up shy of 6am this morning and was on a train about 7am to the airport. Brandy had reported that she barely made her gate by 15 minutes leaving when she did on Sunday. I don’t know if an hour made all that difference or if Sunday was a madhouse of people leaving or what, but I flew through all the gates she mentioned and sat waiting to board for over two hours.

The 11 hour flight was heinously long. Within four hours I’d exhausted what charge remained on my archos (hard drive and mp3 player) so resorted to the in flight music and finished the last of my books. All the while trying to keep some part of my seat from the rather rotund gentleman next to me who seemed oblivious to the amount of personal space he was using.

One of the in-flight channels was the entire Nevermind Album from Nirvana. We touched down to Smells like Teen Spirit, their break-through song. A bit creepy!

And in that angst ridden notion, a small essay I wrote the old-fashioned way at 39,000 feet.

Destinations And Places

An Essay on Life at 39,000 Feet

Outside the plane, there stretches a vast sea of clouds so white that they appear newly laundered. Tiny specks of ocean blue penetrate the carpet below but are almost too small to notice. The plane inhabits a place were the clouds grow thin as if only tenuously connected to their brethren below.

As I look up, the wisps dissolve into the deepest blue, and for just a moment, it all feels unreal. It seems as if the gentlest nudge could send the plane into the heavens. Is our connection as brief as the clouds? Are the jet engines holding us up or down? Here it seems to have no meaning.

With no land in sight, there is at once a feeling of smallness against the backdrop of infinity and a feeling of being connected suddenly to everything and everyone. I know land lies beyond my sight, but I imagine years before when men would steer their tiny boats across the blue sea that hides beneath those clouds. And they did not know what if anything lay beyond.

Would I have their courage? Will I ever sail toward the places not found on maps? Or will I, as so many of us, persist on Mr. Frost’s proverbial more traveled road? I search the heavens for answers but come away with none. And perhaps that is better. Maybe life is meant to be lived minute by minute never knowing what lies ahead or how we will react. I guess I’ll live with the mystery and the hope that’s attached to each new day.

And now time for a long soak and a good nights sleep!

One Response

  • Very enjoyable travelogue, Mark–really appreciated the descriptions of the southern parts. Rome is quite the carnival, isn't it? See ya on Photographica! john

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