June 17, 2010
I'm determined to keep these thoughts at bay. "Not until we land," I tell myself. Of course I think I'm clever, because I know once we land we'll be in such a whirlwind of air trams and subways and commuter rails that I won't have space for these worries. And once I get home I'll collapse from exhausting travel, jet lag, and the lack of cheese fondue. I won't have the energy for these worries then either. So I tell myself, "not until we land," and almost believe I'm tricking myself. Sure, it takes a little more than that phrase on repeat. I watch a couple of movies and take deep breaths during the lulls. Blame the number of deep breaths on the poor quality of the movies. I pull out the sudoku book I haven't touched since I purchased it in the airport before our flight over. Hours and hours of flights and trains where I've let my mind ceaselessly wander and drift. Miles of footsteps without a single worry.
We walked through city valleys and stood on trains chugging over mountain sides. We leaned over the sides of river bridges and watched the sea crash into rock walls. My thoughts roamed free. Darted through cars and in front of metros. Rolled down mountain sides, claimed the point of mountain peaks, plunged into the cold sea. Returned to me refreshed, exhilarated, and airy.
The air on the plane is stale. My head is threatening to ache. I remind myself that it is impossible for the walls to literally be closing in and that I'm never claustrophobic in spaces this large. A wave of anxiety rushes over me: unemployment, living back home, student loans, summer boredom, too old for this... "You can handle this." It's an abrupt voice. A strong voice. "Handle this." Steady. Calm. Insistent. I obey.
I don't trust my ipod, so I flip through the in-air music selection. Find a cover song by a favorite artist. Something I haven't heard before. Press play. Lean into it. Feel my muscles relax, my mind settle, my breath steady. It's an acoustic lullaby without a promise of anything. Steady strings and a smooth voice. Without a repeat button, I hit the back button, time and time and time again. I settle into a liminal state. I'm somewhere over the Atlantic. I'm somewhere in between. I'm here, now.