Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Notes written while traveling:

I do not have an aisle or a window seat for this trip, but at least DM has an aisle seat. I´m actually in the middle of the plane and our seats are behind the wings, so the roar of the engines is constant.

Our flight was scheduled to depart Minneapolis at 3:20 pm. We finally took off at 4:05, due to a problem with one of the engines not igniting. But the problem was fixed and we´re on our way.

It´s amazing how these contrapions make it off the ground. In no time at all, we are soaring away, looking down on the clouds. Once in awhile, I get a glimpse from the corner of my eye. Big, fluffy billows of clouds create a blanket beneath me and my fellow passengers. The think cloud cover changes my perspective and it feels as if we´re only 100 feet up in the air, not 10,000.

And yet, above that endless gleaming white, I see a clear blue sky. The reality of this dream trip has yet to set in. I told people, over and over for the past three months, "I´m going to Portugal!" I received many, many, "Take me in your suitcase!" and "I´m so jealous," and "That is exciting!"s. But belief is still far off for me.

Am I really on a plane, cruising above the clouds, listening to rock and roll, and being whisked away to Portugal? It seems like a dream come true, but still I look for someone to pinch me awake.

We are given sodas and pretzel braids for our first snack on the flight. DM ripped open her bag of pretzels and I have opened mine in a way to scrapbook it later. She looks at mine and then looks at the woman next to me. I know what her thought is. "No, I´m not asking random people for their trash." DM will find other little reminders of the experience to scrapbook.

(Note: there are pauses in when this was written. I am notating them this way.)

We´re flying high and it´s okay to have electronic items playing now. We´ve both broken out our iPods and I decided to set mine to random for a bit. I´ve kept a list of the songs that are playing, to see if any will become a starting block for a post or an observation. (The list is at the bottom of this post.)

Tom Petty sings to me, "You don´t have to live like a refugee!" I don´t think I do, yet the line hits me in a different way today. I am flying away from home, starting an adventure with my best friend, and hoping to land in a foreign country where I speak almost nil of the native tongue. I feel a bit like a rebel, a bit like I´m fleeing, but I feel excitement.

I´ve had to show my passport six times already today and have yet to have a stamp put into it.

The woman next to me on the plane seems to overheat quite a bit. On the runway, she kept fanning herself with a magazine and it kept flashing light and dark into my eyes. For a bit, I wondered if I had entered a disco reality on the plane, complete with strobe lights. Now that we are in the air, cruising along at 600 miles an hour 10,000 feet up, she has taken to spreading her legs and fanning her crotch. This seems oddly rude to me. I wonder if it is a cultural difference, but she is fluent in English and speaks like an American (I found out later that she was from Hawaii, but that still seems like an odd stretch.) I figure she just doesn´t care about whafting her stink our way.

Bob Seger sings to me, "You were a lioness, tall and lean," in the song, "Real at the Time." It reminds me that we´re off to meet The Lioness. The title still seems like a foreign aspect to me. Reality is all around, yet I still don´t believe it. The idea of being away from home still seems far off, but it is right here with me all this time.

(Pause again.)

It is nighttime now. We´re heading into the future and time is passing by so quickly. We´ve almost reached the halfway mark on the first leg of our journey. My watch, and body, are telling me it´s 7:40 pm right now, but it looks more like 10:40 out the window I sneak peeks at.

I´ve never had problems with flying. Usually, the service is fine, the food is bland but bareable, and I never hear those around me. Not this flight. This flight meets all the stereotypical horror stories of flying. There´s the screaming infant up front, whose piercing cries makes me glad I have my iPod. There´s the horrid food service, complete with mush. And DM is singing country music next to me. But that last one is not an irritation. It´s an excitement. The crotch whafter from my left has disappeared. I don´t understand how she could disappear on an airplane, yet she has. Maybe she is hanging out near the restrooms at the back of the plane. She has also now returned.

Outside, I can see the wing of the plane. It is dark outside and the right light is blinking. It reminds me of a time flying with my mother.

On a trip to Arizona to visit my grandma, the "Cookie Queen," Mom saw the light outside the window. She kept watching it and after two hours, she turns to me to say, "What could that landmark be that is so high up that I can still see it?" She will never live that moment down.

I called my grandma the "Cookie Queen." She has always loved cookies, not matter what kind. She´ll prepare the biggest family meal and only moments after the dishes are all cleaned and put away, she´ll say, "How ´bout a cookie?"

Grandma is in the hospital now. She needs a stent put in so she can eat. They have been giving her nutrition though an IV for over a week now. She has surgury today, while we´re in the air.

Grandma has been sedated, but sometimes she comes out of ´the fog´. She keeps asking my aunt Lollie for cookies. "Lollie, could you just get me one cookie from the pantry?" She can´t eat one, yet she wants one. The story is breaking my mom´s heart.

I am continually hoping that she makes it through. I keep hearing talk about final moments care (or the other term, "End of life options") and then she pulls through. She turned 90 this past January. I hope she makes it, for my mom´s sake. I can´t be there to comfort Mom right now and I know it´s a hard time for her.

(Pause again.)

The plane is starting to make its descent. My ears again fill with pressure and pop. I was in the lavatory when we started to decrease our height above the ground. It is an interesting feeling, to be standing still and knowing that you´re traveling at 600 miles an hour. When the plane decreases speed to drop a bit, you feel yourself want to keep moving forward. I get back to my seat and write this down. The big board, that I can hardly read from way back here and with the man´s gigantic mellon in front of me, tells me we should be in Amsterdam, on the ground, in 20 minutes. My body knows from flying previous times that we´re getting ready to land, and to confirm my instincts, the pilot announces overhead that we´re coming down.

The sun is rising in the Netherlands. I see it outside the left windows. That seems like the shortest night of my life. The sky is pink and a big ball of yellow is waking up the jet lagged passengers.

It is almost midnight back home. If I were still there, I would be going out with Char and Tom, most likely. I hope they are having fun adventures. Tom made a comment a few weeks ago that we should start taking vacations together (meaning him, Char, DM, and I). They are the coolest people and I´m sure more adventures will be in the future. I am hoping that all went well today with my grandma. I´m hoping that our flight to Portugal flies by. In about 7 hours, we´re going to meet Johnny IN. REAL. LIFE. We´re going to hug her until she turns blue and we´re going to start the adventure of our lives. Reality may strike me, anytime now.

iPod shuffle
Celebrity - BNL
Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
Papa Don´t Preach - Madonna
We´ve Got Tonite - Bob Seger
Mysterious Ways - U2
Get in Line - BNL
Long Time Gone - Dixie Chicks
Don´t Turn Around - Ace of Base
Wonderful - Everclear
Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye - Steam
Refugee - Tom Petty
Twist & Shout - The Beatles
Real at the Time - Bob Seger
Let My Love Open the Door - Pete Townshend
Roxanne (Live & Acoustic) - Sting
Testosterone - Bush
Standing Still - Jewel
Miles Away - Marc Cohn
Upside Down - BNL
Hells Bells - AC/DC