In the moment when the plane revs its engines and begins its forced acceleration from a dead stop at the far end of the runway, some passengers (well, me) feel the excitement of takeoff. Glancing out the window, the queue of planes waiting to depart rush past, followed by the terminals and the flock of planes gathered around its edges like ducks at a pond. Then comes the moment when the plane lifts away from the pavement and becomes airborne.
Like the moment of birth, this forward rush, both literally and figuratively, marks the moment when the adventure begins. The preparations and planning and excitement and anticipation, whether the months of counting down the days or the movement through the terminal in the final hours before departure, culminate in takeoff. The plane effortlessly releases its connection to the runway – to Earth – triggering the divide when planning transitions to less than sixty seconds of forward thrust. Me, and my fellow passengers, ascend into the sky. Vacation is truly underway.
And so begins the wait until I arrive at my destination. Depending on my plans upon arrival, I might enjoy an adult beverage (see Sound. Color. Hawai’i. from February 2022) or make plans for what happens when I walk through the jetway (see North Dakota on A Napkin from November 2011). Sometimes it’s a quick flight, like to the Keys (see A Little Bit of Something Is Better Than A Whole Lot of Nothing from August 2014) or perhaps five flights in a single day (see Beautiful Beasts from February 2012). Regardless, the energy builds to wheels up and then levels out in preparation for an eventual descent, which often becomes part of the adventure, too.
Whatever happens when my feet are back on terra firma will likely include the highlights I planned plus the impromptu stops (see Roadside Attracting from December 2013) I have yet to imagine. My heart beats faster, ready to be moving forward, but for now I must wait and pace myself as I mentally prep for the rental car line, or the hike to the subway, or the taxi to my hotel. The day will end surrounded by a view unlike the one I see out the small oval window (see Jumping Off Point from January 2012). I listen to music, watch a movie, or tap out a few paragraphs about the emotions I’m holding just below the surface, patiently, and occasionally not-so-patiently, waiting to unfurl them when the aircraft touches down.