Live leigh updates*
*Less live, as in right now, and more lively, as in full of life.
Flying might be the closest thing to magic a human can ever experience. Sure, magicians can practice tricks that fool our senses into an altered reality, but it’s an illusion. Flying is real magic! I understand that “real magic” is probably a paradox, and you might think I’m over stating how exciting air travel is, but just maybe I’m right.
I flew for the first time with my dance team to a competition in Los Angeles, CA. My best friends that I shared life with since kindergarten and I were going to fly to California! We left home the night before our departure with huge bags full of costumes and practice clothes, and then woke up before the sun just to be at the airport on time. We wore matching shirts and jackets so everyone could see how cool we were, and to top it all off, I had the coolest looking, blonde cornrows eastern Montana had ever seen. But not actually.
My dad had bought me a camera to take along so I could take a lot of pictures, and take a lot of pictures I did. The water fountains, security entrance, gate signs, the cockpit, flight attendants, bathroom, and just about anything else you can imagine seeing in an airport was captured on my new SD card because certainly my family would be just as excited to see these things as I was, right? Not particularly.
As fate would have it, I was seated in what everyone knows to be the best seat in the house, or in this case the plane, which is right next to the window! With a rare, undivided attention I listened to every word of the stewardess’s safety briefing as if such words were going to somehow make a difference if there were to be an actual emergency. At the end she told everyone to review the instructions in the safety pamphlet, but in those moments it seemed as if she were speaking directly to little me. She told me to review the pamphlet; so, naturally, I made sure whoever was sitting next to me reviewed it too!
Before take off, the combination of extreme excitement and unspoken fear were all I could focus on. Then a thought came to my mind that forced me to think of nothing else. I couldn’t possibly go through take off without knowing whether I was doing the right thing or breaking the rules, but I also couldn’t miss my chance: my one and only chance that is to document the first plane take off of my entire life! As the man came down the aisle doing yet another seat belt check, which was puzzling in itself because he had already done so two or three times, I raised my hand for his attention.
He drew near, and I licked my lips nervously while taking a deep breath before asking, “Um.. This is my first time flying, and I’m really excited, and I don’t want to make the plane crash, but can I use my camera to videotape leaving?”
Crouching down to meet my eyes he answered in that warm flight attendant voice, “Yes, dear, that’s fine.”
I persisted, “It has an on/off switch, and the lady said ‘anything with an on/off switch needs to be off’! Mine actually has a button instead of a switch, but it’s still either on or off, and it needs to be off?!”
He didn’t even have to think, “I’m very sure that your camera button can be on without interrupting departure .”
I was satisfied.
Once airborne, I was enthralled with being able to: look out the window to see forever into the horizon; soar through clouds without running into another aircraft; and watch all the little people below continue on with their hustle and bustle completely unaware that I was right above them! Now, as you can imagine, I was filled with joy when they told me that everyone got to have snack. After much deliberation I decided to get cranberry-apple juice with the cookies. Little did I know that juice and cookies taste a thousand times better on an airplane! It’s like they had just squeezed fresh cranberries into a cup of the best apple juice ever and then served it with magical cookies that are not only delicious beyond belief, but also vegan friendly!
A week or so later I would land back home in Montana after experiencing four different planes with four different crews and more excitement than ever. Each time we took off I would plunge my hands into the air as if I were on a roller coaster, except on a roller coaster everyone else’s hands are usually raised too, and watch the world get smaller and smaller.
Since then I have been on a number of flights to all kinds of places, and I could bore you for a week with stories, but I’ll stop here.
Believe it or not, in all my travels I have yet to order anything other than cran-apple juice with cookies. I order it not because it’s flavor is unimaginable, I’m sure the taste is comparable to any prepackaged snack, but because there’s no better way to start a new adventure like sipping and nibbling on the sweetness of nostalgia that is airplane juice and cookies.
That’s the magic of flying: it brings me to places I never imagined I would go, while taking me back to places that only exist in my heart.