I need to take a one day trip from Sydney to Melbourne to attend to some family business and I have booked a 10am flight down and a 6pm flight back thinking this will give me about an hour and a half to complete the business required in Castlemaine. Not too early that will force me to drag the old body out of bed any earlier than usual and not too late at night getting home. My dear wife is going to drive me to and from the airport and we will need to leave about 7:30am to give us a little extra time to cope with any peak hour blockages. We wake up to a steady soaking rain which being Sydney means that traffic is going to be even more chaotic than usual. Today is no different of course and I make it into the airport terminal at about 9:05 for a boarding time of 9:30 but first I have to get a boarding pass, and no, please don’t ask why I didn’t get a web check-in pass organised before leaving. The waiting area for check-in is crammed with people and the success of this trip is beginning to look fraught to say the least. However I have just progressed to the second from the front queue when an airline lady comes past asking for any passengers for Melbourne and just about gets knocked over by my eagerness. I have a boarding pass at last and rush towards the departure gate only to find that the flight has been delayed by at least 20 minutes. My desperation evaporates and I can take a seat and observe my fellow passengers in waiting.
The woman next to me is on the phone in calm conversation re-arranging her collection in Melbourne. My neighbour is not alone, the ubiquitous mobile phones are providing a distraction everywhere. Here and there the occasional newspaper and book are being read, maintaining a shrinking last bastion of simplicity amid the sea of electronic devices. A few just sit still, fixedly looking straight ahead, their arms crossed in defiant frustration at this delay in their urgent progression through life. Others curiously wear tee shirts, shorts and thongs in apparent disregard of the sudden change to colder weather. Autumn is to be ignored, long live summer? One young man in his twenties, stretched out in his seat, converse basketball shoes, tight black jeans, red and white striped tee shirt under a black pea jacket, sunglasses on despite the overcast grey day, strives to catch up with some sleep only to be interrupted multiple times by calls on his mobile phone. Relief arrives and just twenty minutes after scheduled departure we board flight VA830.
Taxiing out, we stop and wait, presumably for clearance to takeoff. The whole aircraft is trembling, quivering, as if it was a giant living bird that I had somehow magically been merged into and become one with. For the first time in countless flights I have an awakened sense of its pure intrinsic purpose, not for stolid land activity but to soar upon the invisible waves of the sky. My giant bird sat twitching as if eager to escape this earthbound limitation and return to the freedom of its natural habitat and just fly. We are rolling and as the yellow ground sign “B5” appears on our left we sweep onto our runway for takeoff, straightening up on the runway, brakes on, engine pitch rising and the vibration taking on a frustrated urgency, straining at its earthly restraints, eager to be free, to be rushing down this straight wide asphalt tarmac and off, off into the air. Without any further warning we are rolling again and the sudden thrust pushes every piece of human cargo gently back into their seats. This enormous silver bird, covered head to toe in its handlers gaudy livery, is now rushing with ever increasing speed down the runway, these miracles upon miracles of engineering powering us forward at an unnatural pace. The instant of release arrives and I feel that incredible moment of lightness, my favourite moment, as by sheer brutal force we overcome the gravity keeping us tied to our mother earth. As my spirits soar, aligned with my new giant bird host, my day is underway.
** Stace says: This is my day 8 assignment as part of the Writing101 course run by WordPress. The prompt was “Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.” and the twist was “write an adverb-free post.” Did I achieve that goal? Please comment below.