My first plane ride since I was very young was quite a poetic experience. Taxiing on the run way felt much like a bus ride in high school, if not smoother. The first white light of dawn was creeping over the horizon as we gained speed. It felt like a roller coaster ride and was mirrored the adventure I was embarking on. My life didn't flash before my eyes, but it was apparent that this was the next big step. The great first flight. We tilt back on take off and it is all up hill from here. The pressure is intense, I wish I brought gum. The lights below look like rock paintings of strange creatures created by some nomadic desert tribe. I wonder if someone is looking up at my plane wishing me luck.
We make a turn. I am afraid the cabin is going to slip off the wings, like they are a sword through the belly of this giant bird. We seem to be floating, but I remind myself that there are such things as air currents and propulsion, and really, there is a scientific explanation for my being 30,000 feet above the ground. The man next to me is kind and helps reassure me. He has flown before. Now he is sleeping, breathing quietly, I wish I was that calm, but the adrenaline is getting to me. I don't understand how people get so used to flight that they don't appreciate what is actually happening to them. We are skimming the atmosphere. Outrunning the sunrise, but not for long. A jet flies under us, a white contrail marking it's swift path. Impressive. A white haze seems to surround us. It is beautiful, but still scary, like the planet below is a phantom and some how less solid then it really is.
We are passing over a city. Swirls and grids of lights still shine below, a circuit of fireflies. I think I can see cloud cover below, it looks like snake skin over the planet. I know I can see the wing shaking. We are heading into rain coming into Chicago. Clouds hang in front of us like a massive white sea, soft and rolling. Bumps, I am nervous, but almost everyone else is a snooze in their beds. We are on the cotton sea of white. I can see the layers of atmosphere. I listen to the flight radio. All seems well. It is white on all sides now, with a pink sunrise bobbing on the horizon. It is lovely. And I am getting more comfortable with this flying business.
The stewardess tells us there is 30 more minutes left in the trip and it will be a bumpy decent. I feel like I can see the clouds swirl under us. They grow rougher. Floating over choppy seas. I need to use the bathroom... but I don't want to disturb the sleeping man to my room. The sky is pale blue now, but still no sight of sun. I hope the flight to Japan is just as smooth. This was actually enjoyable. I hear the engines rev, We are descending into the white, now grey, sea. It engulfs us and all color is lost. I feel like I am in the twilight zone, off to another dimension. But I suppose that isn't far from the truth, waking up in another state in another time.
All is gray. They are talking about us on the radio. It is mostly fuzz in an alien language. All I can hear is our call number, United 705. You can't tell if your moving when the world is gray. We go through some turbulence, one of the wing flaps look like it is breathing as it twitches in the air. We are descending, though you can hardly tell for the gray. But the plane is now pointing downwards, that much is clear.