This weekend was the first time that I ever thought to take a photograph from an airplane window, and let me explain the weight of that by mentioning that I was practically born while traveling. Andrew never flew anywhere until he was in his twenties, which is a fact that still blows me away, and I'm always asking him, "Didn't you want to see the world?!" And he says, "Of course," and then goes on to recount every single airport in the United States that he's been to and how he now flies three hundred and something days out of every year. And then I point out that being acquainted with every shoe shiner from here to San Francisco does not qualify as world travel and he then he says, "Well my Frequent Flier Miles say it does."
This weekend was filled with such happiness, such adventure, such tingling renewal, the kind of experience I used to feel when I was going halfway around the world to a place I'd never seen before. I want him to know what that's like. To go out in the world looking for everything and whole-heartedly expecting you'll find it, to gain understanding that you didn't even know you were lacking, to finally realize that the smell of home is better than any creme brulee or swanky surf side restaurant.
This was the picture I took from the airplane window when we were landing in Chicago, the type of cold, rainy, moody day that I actually tend to look forward to. Andrew and I debated about walking around the city, and we decided it wasn't that cold, we wouldn't miss having mittens that much, and an umbrella really isn't that necessary for freezing rain, anyway. After all, it's The Windy City, a place where unless you can hack it in below zero temperatures, you have no rights to deep dish pizza or poppy seeds and celery salt on your hot dog bun. If you scowl over a little sleet or hail you might as well suck your thumb on the L. It's pretty much the same thing.
That last sentence should really end with the word, bee-otch.
Anyway, we zipped up our light jackets and headed out, immediately wishing that we'd just been little bee-otches and sprung for some mittens and extra heavy ski jackets. Do you know that your fingers can freeze together in the time that it takes to walk from a parking garage to The Harris Theater across from the park? WELL, THEY CAN. And both Andrew and I actually prefer that our digits remain separate and moving, so it was right then and there that we realized we were in no position to mess with how the people of Chi-Town do things. We never bought those mittens, but our hands didn't leave the pockets of our jeans for the rest of the time we were there.
On the plane ride back to Florida, I stared out the window at the blue skies welcoming me back, involuntarily adding to my list of reasons why I live here. Andrew was off on another business trip, and so I was alone with three bags, two half read books, and a cheap digital camera.
The plane stopped in Nashville, where most of the passengers were exchanged for new ones, and the business men on either side of me marvelled that I would be remaining on to Jacksonville like they just could not believe my good fortune.
Both flights were full, and you can only imagine how big people's eyes get when they hear the words, "full flight" and see my travel-size self comfortably curled into a seat from head to toe. They practically tackle each other in those teeny tiny aisles to avoid sitting next to the Silent Bob look-a-likes, who's ohmygawd elbows have to actually touch their armrests because they're of average American stature and airplanes are designed to seat elves. All of the sudden I'm, like, The Most Popular Passenger Ever.
When I woke up to the sound of the wheels being released, I can't explain how I felt. Partly because, for a moment, I had no idea where I was at. But also because when I looked out the window and saw all of that blue and green in the dead of winter, it was like I was seeing it again for the first time. It was foreign and familiar at once, a feeling I just can't put into words, but it was different than it had been in the past. It didn't matter that I hadn't been born here or that I'd actually only lived in this particular city just shy of six months. I looked out the window and felt that instant warmth you feel in the pit of your stomach, in the very center of your being when you're where you're supposed to be. All of that sappy stuff about home being where your heart is, it's absolutely true.
And just being that settled, it sort of makes me feel like throwing up.
But in a good way, you know?