Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sky of Wonder

by Jasmine Simpson

The snow was falling softly when the plane pulled out onto the tarmac. In the dead of night, not much was to be seen save for the blue runway lights lining the path ahead. Resting my head against the stiff cushion of my seat, I eagerly settled in for the long flight to Seattle. My row, positioned next to the wheels of the plane, provided me with the perfect window for watching take-off. I slipped on my headphones to drown out the obnoxious noise of my fellow passengers. At last secluded to my own little world, I resumed the music playing on my phone. The sweet, melodic symphony of Yo-Yo Ma’s remastered Gabriel’s Oboe resounded through my ears. All the tension previously stored up in my shoulders evaporated and my breathing steadied.

Here comes the best part.

With my eyes glued to the tarmac below, my heart happily raced as the pilot pressed on the speed. Below me, everything began to flash past my eyes in a tumultuous blur. The snow swiftly disappeared, traveling too slowly to catch my eyes. The plane reached the fastest speed required for take-off and with a soft lurch, the wheels parted from the ground. A weightless emotion stirred inside me and I grinned as the lights from the tarmac disappeared from my sight. Now my adventure could begin. 

The ground descended further below me with every foot of altitude the plane gained. A sudden shroud of darkness enveloped the windows and faint traces of grey clouds mingled with the heavy black of the night. The entry into the dense layer of the storm instinctively made me want to worry. Yet, I realized I was not afraid. As we traveled through the gentle storm, a surreal sense of solitude enveloped me. There would be no turbulence. There would be no lightning. This storm was a quiet and discreet entity raging in the night. Here I was, in a plane full of strangers bustling about, the only one entranced by the mystical tint to the nothingness outside. 
Still, as alone as I felt, nothing could draw my eyes from the beauty. At last, the plane gently emerged from the denseness of the clouds and my breathing hitched. The vast expanse of ground below left me speechless. Marked in sporadic spots, the lights of the city shone through the dark blanket of the night. Every streetlight, every porch light, and every dwelling lit up the blackness with a vibrant yellow glow. Here I was, traveling further and further from home, and yet the light seemed to shine for me with a fond farewell.

We traveled further from my hometown and a blue midnight hue took over the expanse of the horizon. As lovely as the color was, the suppressing shade dimmed all the earth. For thousands of miles the darkness stretched, parallel to the black void of outer space. Lit only by the scarce light of the moon, snow-capped mountains hungrily reached upwards for power. The dominance I had once seen from those mountains below seemed so weak in comparison to the supremacy of the sky. 

“Attention, all passengers,” bellowed a voice over the intercom. I almost jumped out of my seat at the sudden noise. “The plane will be preparing for landing in twenty minutes. Please fasten your seatbelts and return your seats to their upright positions. Thank you.” With an annoyed huff, I glared at the flashing seatbelt sign above my head. I never took my seatbelt off during flights, having not once seen the point of doing so. Desperate to escape the harsh interruption of reality, I switched the music track to a romantic classic, Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque. The harmonic tune never failed to set me at ease.

Once again, all commotion in the plane ceased to register in my mind and I returned to my window. I was lost to the immense span of the approaching Seattle. Thousands upon thousands of pulsating spots crammed together for what seemed like hundreds of miles. The downward trajectory of the plane brought me closer to all of the glorious detail. Above the plethora of lights flickering throughout Seattle, every skyscraper glimmered with a dark sheen of silvery gloss. With a menacing power of their own, the buildings captivated my eyes. The city seemed deceivingly alive, yet I knew from past visits that once I entered the streets, all would be quiet. The world inside the confines of this city would be fast asleep at this late hour. 

My eyes followed the view until they caught the start of the landing tarmac. Eager anticipation swept through me. Shifting in my seat, I peered down at the wheels and awaited their reunion with the ground. With a relentless approach, the ground expanded below me. White lines on the tarmac whizzed past me in a blurry streak. The plane softly collided with the ground and was bouncing along once more. Falling into a smooth drive, the plane reached the terminal and parked. 

Lights flickered on inside the aisles, bringing my eyes to the passengers around me. Everyone was up and moving, some reaching for bags overhead and others collecting their trash. Disappointment flickered through me. The mystical and dreamlike stupor I had fallen into was disappearing. A brush of reality forced me to stand and remove myself from the window’s view. I couldn’t help but continue to replay all those sights in my mind. The soft glow of the city, the infinite darkness inside the clouds, the snow-capped mountains; they were all so unforgettable. Rarely is there the time in this tumultuous world to stop to remember the splendor of the earth. At that moment, I vowed to myself I would relive this experience again. No matter what price I had to pay, I would live this again.

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