I just returned to the states from a ten-day trip to Costa Rica and am one flight from home. I attended a Trailblazers Retreat for entrepreneurs at a yoga and wellness retreat center, sandwiched between the Golfo Dulce and a luscious tropical rain forest. I turned my electronic devices off for the duration of my trip, so I’ll be sharing bits of journal entries over the course of the next few weeks, and well as some insights and my big plans for the next future as I get settled back into real life and slowly whittle my way back to inbox zero.
September 6, 2013
Today, I woke up at 2am in my childhood bed. I said goodbye to my mom and the cats, as my dad loaded my bags into his car. It’s a surreal feeling to be on the desolate mid-night roads, to experience the silence and isolation of the big city as you slowly awaken from your dream state.
My dad dropped me off in front of Terminal 2 at Sky Harbor Airport. I hugged him goodbye, smiled, and entered the sliding glass doors, ready for the big adventure ahead. I presented my passport and was handed a boarding pass; I passed quickly through security and proceeded to my gate, giddy with excitement and anticipation. It was now 3am. The airport was a series of lonely hallways and blank windows, pitch black and uninviting. But it felt like home–a transitory haven on the path to final destinations, known and unknown.
I observed the other red-eye wanderers, those unfortunate enough to be waiting through ungodly hours for the mysteries of moments to come, all while fighting off fatigue. I wondered their stories. Who are they? Who do they love? What have they lost? Where will they be five years from now? What gave the 6’5″ woman the confidence to wear a leopard print jumpsuit and 5″ heels? Where is she going? What language are this father and his daughter speaking? Why does that man look so familiar? Where have I seen him before?
These questions matter. Even if I never discover their answers. Our stories and the stories of all we encounter–and don’t–matter.
My curious new friends and I boarded our flight from Phoenix to Houston, lifting off the runway at 5am sharp.
I love flying into Sky Harbor once the sun has been fully engulfed by the quicksand horizon. The serene silence can be observed in the obsidian landscape below. The darkness personifies a sort of purity, a blank chalkboard on which we can doodle, scribble, analyze, and dream big. I find comfort in the abstruse blackness of night, as seen from the skies.
However, as we approach civilization, the sameness is interrupted by small flicking fireflies miles below. The lights of the outliers then gradually increase in number until an entire universe of glimmering insects dance about the city of new beginnings. Phoenix looks beautiful when the shade is pulled down over the sun and the street lights awaken. This seems especially true when miles and miles above. My expansive home state transforms instantaneously into a remarkably lucid dream state.
This morning I had the opportunity to experience that ethereal phenomenon in reverse, for the first time in my life. A pitch black sky enveloped the aircraft, and everything that would otherwise be before me. Patterns of stringed lights and lone headlights bled together until indistinguishable blurs. It was stunning. The contrast of nothingness and glowing yellow life force made me feel so alive. To rise before the sun is such a gift, to arrange a play date in the heavens is such a pleasure.
I tried to sleep on the 3.5 hour flight, to no avail. I was exhausted, but painfully uncomfortable. I tossed and turned and sighed to myself as I tried to find a tolerable position and tune out the giggly toddler next to me. It was a long couple of hours.
We began our descent into Houston and as we sunk and soared through the thunderheads, my spirits lifted. During the purgatory between flights, I wandered through the airport like a lost soul searching for heaven and curiously exploring the minuscule instances of hell. I walked past a shop and observed four petite Asian tourists, all picking up and examining neck pillows as the chattered in a language I could not understand. Ooh! I felt a fluttering in my stomach, as if a young girl seeing her crush from across the playground. I waited for them to clear, and after several minutes of waiting, I proceeded to my next gate. Oh well, I thought, I’ll survive.
But I could not stop thinking about that damn pillow.
I bought an overpriced, under-flavored airport sandwich. I sat down for about five minutes, restlessly figeting. And then sighed heavily as I was went back for the pillow. I am quite sure it was the best $30 I ever spent. The flight from Houston to San Jose was a dream and I slept through nearly the entire 3.5 hour flight. As we surrendered to gravity once more, the clouds affectionately kissed me through the window and the wing sliced through ethereal floating lakes. The local Costa Rican man beside me pointed out the ocean, volcanoes, lush forests, snaking rivers, and colorful cities. He breathed in deeply as he held both hands over his heart. The joy of coming home.
We touched down and I watched as buckets of rain slammed into the wings, the windows, and the runway.
I made it, I thought myself as I beamed out the window. I am a world traveler.