Wednesday, April 20, 2011

boarding passes

Sometimes, when i'm cleaning out my purse or suitcase, or flipping through a journal, an old boarding pass will fall out.

I have taken about fifty flights in my lifetime, including layovers. I love to fly. One of my favorite flights happened in 2007, when i took my big Europe trip. It was an exciting time, obviously, and there were a lot of flights in those six months, but i am only talking about one now: the one where i flew over Ireland at night.

Usually, when you fly over cities at night, you see a dazzling display of rainbow brilliance, like the jewelry box of a goddess dumped out onto the ground. The lights sparkle and swirl, dazzling the eye far more than the brightest stars ever have.

But Ireland was long stretches of deep, velvet darkness, with only tiny lights here and there to mark the villages. It was like the night sky on a misty night, almost devoid of stars. I had never seen anything like it.

Henry Drummond, in "Inherit the Wind", once said this about progress (in a truly fantastic speech): "Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline."

I understand his point, and as i said, i love the speech, but i have to quibble with him on one point. The birds have lost none of their wonder. Flight is still full of romance.

Which is why i keep my boarding passes. Tucked into my journal or lost in the lining of my duffel bag, they are like roses from a lover, pressed between the leaves of a diary. They are a tangible reminder of my victory against gravity, of my magical wanderings across the earth and through the skies.

Plus, sometimes i forget to throw them away.

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