"I never liked flying," she said, she says, "you have to accept that death is a possibility once you buckle up."
Grim, what is this place, anyways? Golds and reds dance all around as higher and higher we climb until the clouds lay beside us.
"All the time, every time. I never got over it. Until... well, now I understand. All those uncomfortable flights of dread, frustration, and panic."
She stops for a breather but mostly for me. I also have to catch up. All these trees will take your time away if you're not mindful. Maybe that's just me? Bark has a way of calling me. The texture, ever so quiet yet harsh, it's a muted statement ever present about our lives. Maybe just mine. Maybe I have issues with a person's touch.
She continues on, "it was the lack of control. You just sit there, life in the hands of a stranger and a machine. Well the pilot does introduce themselves, so not a complete stranger, but might as well be."
No signs of slowing down; onwards, upwards.
"Maybe I just prefer the ground. Trains, cabs, and buses are no problem. I've even ridden a horse.... Anyhow, with planes I realized it was the lack of control. Of choice. Like, I can get on a bus with a planned destination, BUT, I can get off earlier if I want. With just a single pull, I can be back on my own two feet. Trains, not so much, but I'm aware of it so don't go arguing with me."
An asthmatic can't argue at the moment.
"Just that little bit of control eases the tension. KnowwhatImean?"
"Are you suggesting that being in complete control of one's life would be stress free?"
"No, you are."
She's right. She's gone. Up again.
"What I'm trying to say, right now, is that I get this moment of defiance when put in a position of no control. Like, say, someone is chasing me and I end up at the dead end of a cliff. They say, they always say, 'there's nowhere for you to run, surrender.' blah blah blah... anyhow, that sort of situation, I'm the sort to jump off to prove I still have a choice of my own. I'd go down smiling just to prove them wrong. Probably out of madness. But I can get just that stubborn at times. Willing to jump and all."
Jump? Where are we heading again? Higher and higher.
Her feet march steadily, determined to leave behind her troubles. But no matter the climb, we have to come back down to them at some point, don't we? It sure is peaceful up here. If we stay up here long enough, will all our troubles actually wait or will they forget about us eventually? But then what's actually left of us without our troubles? They live with us like parallel lines, just as near, just as far, a definition that can't be so easily cut.
If I stay up here too long I will forget myself.
"Last time I prayed, I was a kid. Shitty lungs for the longest time, asthmatic like hell."
"Ever see those machines? Sitting at home every day with this buzzing in front of you, mask strapped to your face as the vapors well up and envelope your face. All that noise made for some quiet moments. Hated it. Anyhow. So there we are at church, being goody goodies. Bam, asthma attack. In church! And me with no inhaler. My mom drags me outside so as not to disturb anyone else. Grandma standing by, praying, as I try to figure out how to breath. Just like that I think, here comes my time, and during church! Thankfully someone else there with an inhaler heard what was happening and came out to help. I know I know - it's HIS mysterious way of working! HE can keep his work to himself. What had I done up to that point as a kid to deserve that? Maybe my mom did something wrong. I don't know. But that was the first time I had no control. Over my own damn body. So this is something that's been with me for a long time. I think that's what I was trying to say. That's my issue. One of them at least."
But, the planes...
"So, I'm an asshole. Gotta make my own choices, always thinking control is the way to go. But then I met someone and all was well and good between us. I thought. When he left I figured it out. Always the way, as they say. That was the first relationship that made sense after it was over. I think if I had actually let my guard down, then the two of us would have become something else, something more. Something good. Controlling our future together. Creating a future. Don't really know for sure, just what I speculate, it is a part of time I will never know. All the what-ifs and how-comes that keep us up at night, with every answer returning the blame at us."
She slows to a stop. Raises a hand and extends a finger.
"The planes fly from over here. The last I heard from him, he was getting on one. Flying away from me. Selfish, I know, but it is my perspective. He probably had many other reasons to end it. But he gave me back my control. And for once I don't want it. This path, never thought it would be like this once I arrived."
The clouds have left as the sun machine comes down. The stars say hello. She looks beyond them, a gaze reaching out to an idea. But it doesn't shine.
She finally stops, finds her spot, "He brought out of me a sort of peace and excitement. As if I was having a memory of a festival. All familiar and warm. Never ending. What do you think?"
Such love, yes, I see her when I close my eyes, "I once knew a woman that bought a pajama onesie because I had one and thought it would be fun if we had a pajama night. And it was, plus so much more. She hadn't worn one since being a kid, but there she was, ready to run with it. Hand in hand, we ran through this world as one. Then the running stopped for some reason.... My heart melted when we found each other. Now it just aches. Like you said, someone that sparks that festival from within. It doesn't happen too often, and it's usually too late when we realize what we had found."
"Yeah. Cause we're idiots. Stubborn."
"It's quite the mess, meeting someone. Loving someone. Missing someone."
"Building something bigger than the sum of two."
The cliffs edge closer, a plane passes over.
She sighs, "I like to think, that if I wait here long enough, love will come with the dawn. But his plane never seems to land. What a beautiful mistake. Like, I'm not sure what I want it to be anymore, but it doesn't have to be perfect."
We stand apart and hold onto those that brought us joy. All familiar and warm.