Sunday, May 14, 2006

Rainbows and beaches and sleeping on planes

I feel really far away right now. I guess I am – a lengthy flight across the Pacific Ocean separates me from most of you, and the time change underscores the fact that I’m in a very different location than I normally reside.

I can’t sleep on planes. I also can’t swallow pills (I chew them up. Don’t make faces at your screen! It’s not that gross!). I just feel the need to be aware of my surroundings when tucked among many strangers. I can’t relax, get comfortable, let go. So it was with a heavy sigh that I left LAX Sunday night. I knew I had hours to go before rest and comfort were available, but cuddled into my window seat, tucking Pickwick into the pouch in front of me with a bottle of water. I put on lip gloss, fastened my seat belt, and turned to stare out the window.

I felt sad, to be honest. I was already yawning and despaired over the thought of being awake for another 7 hours or so. I wanted a shower now, not after arriving in Honolulu! I probably wouldn’t be able to focus enough to read my book, I whined in my head. And I had work to do, but wouldn’t pull myself together enough to do it. I frowned at the man sitting next to me – the armrest conveniently notes where your space ends and where mine begins. Get off my side! Then I noticed him holding his wife’s hand, thought it was rather nice that she was sitting on the aisle while he suffered the middle seat. This thought made me resist the urge to poke him with my elbow.

We’d been in the air for an hour when I got uncomfortable and bored. I thought despondently that I wouldn’t even be able to mope properly at M’s house. She’s effervescent – so bright and lovely, cocking her head at any complaint, pursing her lips then offering a bright side. I want to be depressed, I pouted. And I want to sleep. I’m tired, but I can’t sleep on planes. Ever. Poor, miserable me. I prayed for a moment – asked for some peace because I don’t like being so very hopeless for no good reason. It's ridiculous, after all. I'm headed to Hawaii for fun and I'm working myself into a pretty good state of sadness.

Shaking my head – because enough, already, right? I decided to dig out my laptop – disturbing the space hog beside me and the reclining boy in front to do so – and got some work done. Satisfied with my progress on my histograms, I considered reading more Dickens, but decided instead to rest. I’d been listening to my Pout playlist on the iPod, and tucked the pillow between my shoulder and the window, and nuzzled in while I listened. It’s too bad I can’t sleep on planes, I thought vaguely. I’m comfortable, the music is nice, the turbulence seems to have passed.

I don’t remember taking off my headphones, though when I heard the captain speaking, I looked down to find them neatly coiled around my foof-covered iPod. We were halfway through our descent, currently at about 15,000 feet, and my ears ached accordingly. I glanced down and saw O’ahu sparkling in the darkness – all orange lights from that distance.

I slept, I thought, completely amazed. For about 2 hours, I think. I felt rested, happy, excited to see M. This time I knew we’d pass by the island, head over the ocean and turn toward the airport again. It concerned me on my first flight, but I knew what to expect this time. We got lower and lower and I watched carefully, half expecting to see a splash from the wing as we were certainly not far above the ocean’s surface. My wing dipped a bit and I couldn’t see the lights, waiting impatiently until they appeared once again.

We landed and the guy seated directly behind me applauded. He did so alone and laughed when his friend told him to stop.

“We’re here, bro! I’m so excited!” He returned, bouncing in his seat when I glanced behind me.

It’s funny, I mused. I tend to expect the worst – assume I can’t sleep on planes when clearly I’m able to do so. But then when something good happens – a giant vessel descends from the sky safely and lands gently in paradise – I’m surprised when someone expresses pleasure. It was just supposed to happen – you get on a plane with the expectation that you’ll be able to get off of it safely in some pre-determined time.

I guess I’m trying to applaud a bit here. I knew it would be a lovely trip, but I feel amazingly relaxed and happy – distant from most things that bother me back home. The worry comes less frequently and doesn’t linger for so long. I find it interesting that serene happiness feels pretty foreign to me – especially over a long period of time. It shouldn’t, right? It seems as though I’d be able to look around at all that’s good in my day to day life and smile rather than try to figure out what happens tomorrow.

I woke up this morning and came out on the lanai to call Mom. We talked for a while, then I decided to head back to bed. Mild hunger sent me back upstairs shortly after – I wanted the other half of the blueberry muffin from yesterday and had forgotten my lilikoi passion drink on the patio furniture. I emerged on the patio with my laptop and book to enjoy the soft rain and thought to look for a rainbow. I found one, and cooed with delight before rushing back to find my camera. It – likely like this relaxed state of bliss I’m currently enjoying – was fleeting. It’s almost gone as I type this. But I have pictures. And I’m going to try to remember how this feels – just complete enjoyment of the current moment with little thought for the next.

In the time it took me to edit - add links, upload photos, the rainbow had disappeared. But I just glanced up and it's back! This gentle arc of color - a long bend of light - it's impossibly pretty, guys! A world capable of creating such beauty is rather amazing. I'll try to remember to be more serene and happy upon my return home.

As for now? I'm having such a good time.


Jane said...

Glad to hear you're having a great trip so far!

Just out of curiosity, care to share what's on you "pout" playlist? I'm intrigued!

post-doc said...


Ask and you shall receive (at least in terms of playlists). :)

JustMe said...

wow, what amazing photos!
and glad to hear you slept :o)

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