Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Flight Attendance: Leaving, Living, and a Little Girl

Hello, readers! Apologies for the extended delay, I hope to be posting at least once a week for the summer months. I thank you, as always, for reading, and I ask for your feedback: Are the posts too long? Too short? Too personal? Too general? Too serious? Too conversational? Do you prefer the social commentary, or the introspection? Do you enjoy reading, or do it only because I so forcefully suggest you do so? (I love you guys!) Anything you have to say, I would be thrilled to listen. Please comment! I promise to incorporate and improve by your suggestions. -- Anna

Whenever I see an airplane interlacing its contrails high across the “wild blue yonder,” as my mom calls it, I feel a little tingle of excitement and jealousy. “Wow!” I always think. “Those people are so lucky! Those people are going somewhere!” When I was a little girl I spent hours trying to figure out some way I could know where the tiny white jets were heading, why the people on the plane were going there, whether they were going away or going home. Part of my mind was always on that plane, like it was trying to hitch a ride to whatever exciting destination to which they were flying. I also spent hours trying to figure out a method by which to measure the height of the towering white clouds I almost never saw in Arizona, and I had no progress on that topic, either, except that now I spend hours figuring out what the psychological meaning or impact was of my young self so frequently craning my neck to ponder the cerulean-and-cirrus cosmos.

My recent flight from Arizona to western Washington State, where I am spending the summer, really excited that little girl I guess I still am. In the airport I studied to arrivals and departures boards, thinking, “Wow! There are people going to all those cities!” and, “There are people out there existing, right now, in all those places! Just like I am existing here! Awesome!” I almost missed my boarding group because I was so enthralled by all the exotic possibilities. Even when I was waiting on the tarmac to deplane in Seattle, I watched a plane take off and thought reflexively, “Those people are so lucky! Those people are going somewhere!” It took me a second to realize that I was already on a plane, I was one of those lucky people. Even when I am in my desired destination, my subconscious is jealous of people jetting off elsewhere.

Why is it that I am so drawn to leaving? (Or is it going, or coming, or something else?) I have been talking to my friend Danny about this compulsion to “escape”: when you are going somewhere, you should be sure that you are going for the action of going to your destination and not going for the action of leaving the place which you were previously. You should beware of what it reveals about the place you are most of the time (the place you probably call your home), Danny and I have determined, if you are more eager to leave that place than you are to arrive another place. In this psychology of geography, you’re pretty much okay if you at least want go “home” after a little while of being away. But for me, at least, I always seem to caught up in the act of going, of wishing I was in a plane zipping across the globe. In an old episode of Bones I was watching last night, Agent Booth was talking to Brennan about his upcoming trip to Jamaica, and he summarized the leaving/going paradigm like this: “I always think about not coming back.” I think a lot of people do this, but I am more filled with the wing-footed restlessness of always wanting to be a departure, never a return.

I know all this can be explained by my age, my circumstances, and my head-(literally)-in-the-clouds inclinations. It could be both dangerous and foolish of me to live a life according to these airy desires, and though I don’t think I could quite do life as a homeless vagabond, the idea can be sort of seductive. Like the first three-quarters of Into the Wild, I love idea of leaving the lifeless life that I fear will await me in middle-aged wasteland for an alternate path of taking chances, casting off the constraints of society, and leaving it all behind. This, of course, would be going to leave. While McCandless did some amazing things – kayaking down the Colorado all the way to the Gulf of California, for example – I think he was mostly leaving to leave, not leaving to go. If I can learn something from the story of this man who died too young because of his desire to be gone, it is that the ties that bind, the ones that seem to constrain us, are the ones that tie us down, from floating off into the vast lonely blue unknown.

In my deeply youthful and selfish desire to live a life that is adventurous and exciting, I always wish I were going somewhere new. The sound, like one escaped from the inside of a seashell, of a jet across the sky makes me become that girl with her eyes on her only limit. But as much as my subconscious is excited about my life and my body always being up in the air, I am trying always to learn and enjoy the good in arrival, in coming home, in existing fully where I already am.


Jason said...

very fitting to some of our talks..

JHEIT! said...


So, I have a comment on paragraph three. You said, "...I love idea of leaving the lifeless life that I fear will await me in middle-aged wasteland..." (Swenson 1) (:]). Conversely to how you imagine fleeing that wasteland by plane, I myself avoid said wasteland by envisioning, well, a literal wasteland. Ever since we were in school we've been besieged with the predictions for 2012, so much so that I actually haven't really planned for a normal life after that year. Subconsciously I think I am preparing for a Cormac McCarthy-like apocalypse. For instance, this year I started to not wear shoes as much when I went outside so that my feet would become calloused in preparation for the possibility of a shoe-less future. I took HPA so that I could learn how to skin and disembowel a creature; however, instead of learning about its anatomy, I was taking mental notes of the information to use when I can no longer buy my meat pre-packaged. Perhaps this is because I am a terribly morbid person, but the idea of living off the grid is utterly fascinating to me. I don’t visualize an Into the Wild experience, but I like the primal and completely necessary feel a post-apocalypse world requires. I wish I could live in the time of Stonehenge, where a person spent his days gathering stalks of wheat rather than stocks of companies. Despite the horrors that would come with such a life, I like to believe I would thrive. However, you and I both know I would probably go crazy without my cell phone.