“5…4…3…2…1…” The four-year-old who had been intermittently kicking my seat as the plane taxied from the gate, switched into high gear.
“Momeee…Herewego!!” she prattled in a voice more singsong than speech. “Bye bye world!” Her rapture was so contagious I forgave her those last two kicks.
I began flying at about the same age as the little seat kicker. Alone. My parents put me on the forty-five minute Delta flight from Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama to visit my grandparents. I sat up front and the stewardess played with me, read books to me. When I boarded, she pinned little plastic wings to the collar of my dress, making sure that I had extra cookies. (Boy, am I dating myself. Imagine. Once upon a time Mary Janes and Polly Flinders dresses were de rigeur airplane attire!)
I loved the magic of flying, watching the world turn into a miniature universe where cars scurried like ants and swimming pools became tiny mosiac tiles, just like the ones I peeled from adhesive netting for nursery school projects. Nighttime flying inspired a lifelong passion for cobalt blue. I was mesmerized, watching for the twinkling constellations down below that guided our plane to safety.
When the plane landed, a metal staircase was locked into place. I took the steps one at a time, knowing those little triangles embossed into each silver step would lead me to my grandmother waiting at the bottom on the tarmac. Her image never changed: belted shirtwaist dress, brown handbag over her arm, Cherries in the Snow nail polish. By the time I reached the last stair I could nearly smell the Juicy Fruit gum in her handbag’s inner pocket. She kept it right behind the accordian pleated rain bonnet that I could never fold back into place after playing with it.
“Good-bye world..Good bye town! Hello clouds!” the prattler called out kicking my seat once again. I allowed myself to slip into her universe — a world where planes were magic carpets not missiles of catastrophe. Clouds floated by huge and weightless, bouncing against one another in their silent sky dance. The ant-like world down below went about its business completely unaware of us onlookers from above.
“Yippee!!! We’re flying Mommeee! Flying!” she sang, reveling full throttle in the miracle of flight. I let her take me along, journeying with her to a place where magic still existed and flying was a dream come true.
Loved it – brought back lots of memories of childhood trips for me, also – when flying was fun and exciting!