Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Flying by Night

Several times last night I thought about that phrase "fly by night," as in "that fly by night dental school," which means you would never let their graduates near your mouth.    But my experience flying by night was sublime, when it wasn't somewhat ridiculous.

Yesterday my folks dropped me off at the Richmond (Virginia) airport at 4 p.m., and I didn't get my checked bag off the Ft. Lauderdale carousel until 1:40 a.m.  Could I have driven faster?  I'd have driven 934 miles, so no, probably not.

I should also say that I didn't pay for a direct flight.  My departure/arrival time was more important to me than a direct flight, and it didn't hurt that the flights with the times I needed were cheaper than direct flights.

As always, the Richmond airport delights.  It would have been easy to stay spaced apart without having to be so far away from the gate that one might miss one's flight.  At the Atlanta airport, I found no respite from the throngs of humanity.  Where were we all going?  It was hard not to see that airport as a superspreader event. 

I brought 2 books with me, and I finished both of them before my second flight.  I read Detransition, Baby, which was interesting, but not the exploration of brave new families that book reviews led me to expect.  Then I read Send for Me, which was spare and beautiful in a spartan way, but not gripping in terms of plot.

I finished that book while the plane was still on the tarmac in Atlanta.  What would I do during the 90 minute flight to Ft. Lauderdale?

Stare at the moon, that's what.  Was it significantly different staring at the moon from a height of 30,000 feet?  Not really.  It didn't make the difference that a telescope would make, for example.  But I saw the sky turn reddish purple and then golden and then the huge mostly full disc of the moon emerged, not quite full, but not a half moon either.  I could see the land below, the glittering lights, the dark splotches.  I could see some long lines of clouds that looked more like surf, but I was sure they were not.

An added bonus:  for much of the flight, the cabin lights were dimmed, so the view was even more compelling.  Not having a book to read didn't bother me at all.

I realize that most of my fellow fliers weren't as lucky as I was--in addition to having a window seat with a view, I was in that 1 exit row seat that didn't have a seat in front of it, so I could stretch my legs.  At one point, I looked over to see if my rowmate wanted to look out the window.  At the beginning of the flight, he had been pecking on his phone so intently that the flight attendant said, "Sir?  Did you hear a word I said about your duties and this exit row seat?"  After the lights went out, he fell asleep.  I hogged the window, guilt-free!

I wanted to tell everyone to look out the window, to tell them what an amazing celestial show they were missing by sleeping or staring into their phones/tablets.  I'm willing to be arrested for many activities, but reminding my fellow travelers to look out the window is not one of them, so I stayed quiet.

Last night, I was the quiet mystic, staring out the window at the moon, not the prophet, shouting at people to renounce their false gods and realize how we can find God in nature.  Last night, I was the woman wishing I had a camera that could capture that beauty and realizing that sometimes (often), it's best to just let beauty wash over us as we fly by night.  

No comments: