The flight that was

I made it to seat 34E, three rows from the back of the plane, to find that my entire row was empty. It was a relief since the rest of the plane was full, but I knew that my neighboring passengers would soon arrive. Only one of them did, and her name was Terra.

She was sweet from the start, bearing with me as I switched seats in order to leave an empty seat between us. We reveled in the extra space and later clinked our plastic airline cups in celebration of it. We started our seven hour flight off well.

About midway through our trip, the pilot turned the seat belt light on and announced that we would be experiencing “moderate turbulence” for the next fifteen minutes. Terra turned to me and wondered what that meant.

As though he had heard her, the pilot then added that “moderate turbulence” could be “enough to slosh water in a cup and make you feel a sense of weightlessness.” Neither of those were comforting, and Terra and I looked at each other with concern.

Terra, after a moment’s quiet, held out her hand and asked if we could hold hands to face the fear together. Little did she know that I was about to ask her the same thing. We clasped hands, and I closed my eyes.

I imagined us riding a bus through a rural highway. The sun had just set, leaving residual light and letting the temperature fall just slightly. The headlights were turned on and illuminated the rows and rows of pines on either side.

A jolt brought me back up to the sky as I was still holding on to Terra. A surprisingly familiar song came to mind, one I have not heard in years, that I decided to hum. Its familiarity helped me hold steady.

Throughout our turbulence, I thought of the end. I pictured my friends, the beloved people I know, and how they would take my passing. I thought of losing myself, no longer existing, and how I would miss the chance of being alive.

I thought of losing the ability to write, to create things from my own hand, and how I still had much to give. Deep down, I did not want it to be the end. I felt as though I was only beginning.

Who are you?

There have been two instances now where I’ve been asked a question, and I couldn’t seem to find an answer:

  • Cual es tu estado favorito? (Which state do you like most?)
  • What do you like? Like, what is it that you can talk about for hours?

As simple as they were, I was stumped:

  • Uh, I don’t know. I guess California?…but Massachusetts is cool too…
  • Uh, anything creative, like patterns…and Austin Kleon

Things such as philosophy, the concept of time, the cyclical nature of life — are all topics I think of constantly and easily.

But turn the conversation toward me, and I stutter.

All I can think of is the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland and his imposing question:

It’s not that he’s questioning her existence (who are you?) but more so her standing (who are you?).

The attention is now on Alice as opposed to everyone else.

Think, Alice, think. Who are you?