There's nothing like getting settled in my seat, ready for an almost-six hour flight home, and immediately hearing, "We don't know where our pilots are," from the flight attendant.
Hmmm...that seems like a fairly significant thing to overlook as flight preparations are being made, but what do I know about running an airline?
Later, as we approached Los Angeles right around midnight - about three hours beyond what was scheduled - I could see a layer of fog hovering over the west side of the city, lights twinkling not far below. Fog hugs the coast like this quite a bit during this time of the year. Known as "June Gloom", this is when the mornings are soft and gray, and the sun takes its own sweet time burning through and giving us a glimpse of blue skies. For a few moments, as we began our descent, it almost looked as if Los Angeles were underwater, and I felt like I was making my way into another world, maybe even another planet.
As our altitude decreased and I watched the city come into clearer view, I thought about how peculiar, unnerving and curious it sometimes feels to move between worlds. As much as I travel - and love to travel - I don't know that I'll ever quite master it. There is always a certain discomfort I go through in those moments between one place and another, and every transition has its own unique flavor. There are bits and pieces of exhaustion, jet lag, euphoria - over all the joy I might have just experienced as well as the relief I feel at the thought of sleeping in my own bed - gratitude, longing and desire - desire to go back, have more time, do more, do less, stay home, run, sleep, sit and create.
Maybe the illusion of Los Angeles being underwater wasn't so much about Los Angeles as it was about my own self - about feeling like each of my journeys away from home creates a certain sense of drowning. I realize drowning might, at first, seem like a frightening analogy, but when I imagine myself in this kind of immersion, it isn't about being overcome to the point of annihilation, but about surrendering and sinking into everything that is before me. It is a visual representation of my wanting To Take What I Am Given, and when I travel, I am always given a lot.
This morning it is gray and everything outside my windows looks quiet. June Gloom is in full swing. But today I am savoring the soft skies and appreciating the way it encourages me to move slowly and walk gently. I am still making my way back home, still not quite here or there.
“Like sudden blossom on the naked trees
Memories shoot; the place is all alive
With questing thoughts that like Spring-quickened bees
Find and bear back remembrance to my hive.”
~ Julian Huxley, from the poem The Old Home