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  • When I was a kid every year my mom would take my brothers and I to a big religious convention, usually held at a baseball stadium or basketball arena. For a few years the convention was held at the Hollywood Park horse race track in Los Angeles. Hollywood Park is directly on the arrival flight path to LAX airport, so instead of listening to the sermons I would sit and count all the planes that flew by, making a list which recorded each airline and how many of their planes passed overhead. The tenth United, the seventh Delta, the third AeroMexico, there goes a Malaysia Airlines! I may have been eight years old, but I knew my airlines and countries and geography, I knew where all the far-flung places each plane represented were located. By the end of the tree or four day convention, I had counted hundreds of planes and dozens of different airlines. Sometimes my brothers would even join in. But exotic destinations were not for me and my family. We went places, but if we couldn’t get there in whatever beat-up used car my mom was driving we didn’t go. I didn’t take my first commercial plane ride until I was 18 years old and running away from home for the second time. Since then I have taken my fair share of plane rides.

    I thought of this today when I went for a walk this afternoon, and ended up watching the planes take off and land at the San Diego airport from a spot about twenty minutes away from my home. I didn’t have any plans to watch the planes, but as I walked up a hill I couldn’t help myself but stop and stare and see the planes taxi, land, take-off. There was something so calming and relaxing about the seemingly clockwork efficiency (not from a passenger’s perspective certainly), the noise on take-off or landing, starting off low and far away but assuredly building up into a roar, and then just as quickly, the noise is gone. But although watching the planes was calming, it also made me restless. I wanted to be on one of those planes, flying off to some place, making a connection in Houston or Atlanta or LA to some far away continent. I thought back to all the places I’ve been, all the plane rides I have taken, and slowly I began to relax again. Another plane took-off, another plane landed. I’ll be on a plane again soon, probably not this summer, but soon. And until then I’ll just stand and lean on a fence and watch the planes and remember the places I’ve been and dream of the places I’ll go.
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