The first time I flew in a plane was with my dad.
The flight was from San Francisco to New York. We were going to visit his family.
The land moved slowly away outside the window. I could see the San Francisco Bay. Then a field of houses. Over Stockton farms were visible as a grid across the landscape. Then we were in the clouds.
Ever since I was young I dreamed of flying. But not in an airplane. In my dreams flying was simple. I would take a step. Then I would take another step before my foot hit the ground. I would repeat this trick faster and faster. Until I had climbed into the sky on an invisible staircase.
I don’t recall much of the trip with my father. I visited his sisters, and his brother. And their family. I wouldn’t see most of then again for over 20 years. I will never know what I missed in those years. What I missed by not having a relationship with my family in New York.
In my dreams flying didn’t scare me at first. But sometimes I would feel like Icarus. Don’t go so high I would say, but I kept going higher and higher anyway. Maybe these dreams were about escaping something in my life. Or just escaping my life.
There were times I was afraid of falling. And others when I just didn’t care. In many of my dreams I would fly over water.
I would be safely in the sky. And below me would be an ocean of water. If the sky is the mind. And the sea is emotion. It should be clear I have been using my mind to flee my feelings for years. And I have.
Flying back from New York I remember the clouds. When you are above the clouds looking down they look solid. They don’t look like an infinite number of tiny drops of water. But more like a snow covered landscape. A magical landscape.
All of my plane trips have been connected with my dad. Once later I flew to visit him in San Francisco. At the airport we talked to a limo driver. He was hiring out his services, and asked in which district of the city did we live. Instead of taking a cab home, we took a limo – with some other people. I had never been in a limo before. And I never have since.
Trying to go home from the trip there was trouble with my flight. The airline put me up in a hotel for the night. The next morning watching TV in the lobby I discovered Mr. Bean. Oh yeah, I know I wasn’t the first one.
I never much liked the flying dreams. You would think they would be exciting. But they aren’t. In a way it is all so boring. Flying though the air, and looking down at the world. And often they left me feeling alone. No one else was flying through the sky with me in those dreams.
In fact there are rarely people in these dreams. And to the extent I even thought of others, it was to hide. In my dreams I wouldn’t want others to know I was flying. I would just hope they wouldn’t see me.
And I do hope people don’t see me. I can’t fly away from real life. But I can run away in other ways. Run from people and there prying eyes. Run to where people don’t see me.
The last time I flew in a plane was with my father. I was so stressed about missing the plane. The plan was for me to fly from Colorado. I was living near Vail. Then I would meet him near Washington, D.C. in an airport. We would fly together to Long Island.
The thing about me is I am objectly unsuited for many common life skills. I could list a dozen basic areas of knowledge, which I just don’t seem to posses. And getting myself together enough to catch a plane is a real struggle.
The flight was paid for by father. His sister had died. And he wanted me to be there for the funeral. Only the second funeral in my life. So we flew out to New York. And saw the family he left years and years before. The family which was only a shadow of a memory to me. My dad flew away from his family too.
When my niece was born. I left town. My sister hasn’t ever forgiven me. But like my father. Like Icarus in my dreams. It felt like an escape at the time. And I did escape. But like I said, flying around in the air all alone isn’t much fun.
Since my last trip to New York me and the cousins are friends online. As much of a friendship as can be experienced through social media.
In the last few years flying dreams have been more rare. Ever since I cracked the code. Maybe dreams are trying to tell us something. If we don’t get the message they try and try and try. Then one day it falls into our awareness. We hear the lesson. And the dream stops.
We dream other dreams. I would like to say I am closer to my own emotions. But I know it is a lie. Also I am no closer to my family either in California. Or in New York. I haven’t even seen my father in over five years. Since the trip to New York. I haven’t seen my sister in an even longer time.
Being alone is escaping. Flying away. Pigeons can always find their way home. But don’t count on finding your way home. I never have.
(A Room to Write exercise about flying)