Reflections about flying

If you were an airport, what would you see? You’d sit still everyday, rooted in certain geographic coordinates while people fly in and out of your framework. You’d see couples sharing last few kisses before the gates close, you’d see parents holding the hands of children on their first trip out of the country, you’d see joyous reunions of parents returning from business trips and soldiers coming back from the other side of the world. And you’d see this everyday, multiple times a day. For every flight that departs, there is a flight that arrives.

If you were the passerby, what would you see? You’d walk past the partings and homecomings and think to yourself, how nice. Oops, better hurry, otherwise I might miss the flight. And with that, the images of tears of sadness and joy slip out of your mind. The hugging individuals soon comprise the hustle-bustle that you associate with airports. You view the airport itself as just a stop on a long journey, the journey that is your life.

The first time you fly, it’s a terrifying experience. The whole lot; packing properly so that you don’t get pulled aside and patted down or have to open your suitcase in front of everyone, answering security questions and pulling your ID for the people to check, going through long lines of impatient, official-looking business men that probably have important places to go, fitting heavy carry-on bags in the upper space while people stare irritably, and timidly asking the people in the aisle seat to stand up so you can go relieve yourself.

The second time you fly, it’s more bearable. You can pull your packing list from last time, and even if you still get pulled aside because you forgot to dump your water bottle, you have your ID in your pocket to streamline the process, you know that checking your carry-on might be the way to go, and you strategically go to the bathroom before the flight takes off.

And then you fly frequently enough that the whole process is a glide on the ice rink. Your feet shuffle familiarly, you know where to check and look, and you make your way to your destination with ease. The flight attendants seem more accommodating and you settle down with a Sudoku puzzle as the plane ascends into the sky. You are no longer as bothered by your eardrums exploding or your skin drying out from the recycled air in the plane cabin.

I’m almost 18; I’ve had my fair share of flying experiences, and they get less and less magical each time. But still, there’s still that sinking feeling in my stomach every take off, there’s the feeling of anticipation as the plane touches down on the runway, and there’s the relief that the flight arrives safely without any technical problems.

It’s because we get older, and we have less to freak out about, which is especially evident in situations such as flying. We no longer exclaim out loud as the objects on the ground shrink to pinpoints, but instead stare out of the window, watching the clouds fly by or the sun start to set on the spectacular horizon. We no longer fiddle around in our seats; we instead sit tight and pull on a pair of earphones, or start getting work done on our computers.

Getting older changes your reaction to flying; it’s not really a good-bye, but rather, a metamorphosis.

Imagine listening to this while flying; I can just envision the horizon distorting itself before my very eyes, writhing and twisting, changing colors…trippy as ever.

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