Sunday, August 10, 2008

Flying at Night

Night Flying
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

Most of my life I have had dreams of flying, though not so much any more. When I was about nine or ten the dreams were so vivid that I thought perhaps I really might have the ability.
So one day after school I tried. I held my arms out a bit from my side and ran about the backyard, duplicating the little run skip hop up into the air that sufficed in my dreams.
I didn’t work.
I tried again.
And again.
Until I became vividly aware of just how earthbound I was. I could feel within my cells the density, the utter dross that comprised my body.
That moment was revelation as much as disillusionment.
I would not try again until I was an adult. (Yes, even when I should have known better.)

For you see, I loved flying. The dreams were wonderful.
And there are ways to release the dross, ways for your body to become composed of lighter elements.
And through the years my dream flying had improved.

Once, I even soared straight up through the midnight clouds, tearing through the wisps, through the stratosphere out into the vacuum of space, past the moon, towards a distant star that grew in size, larger, larger, until it was revealed as The Eye of God.
I flew right into the black, huge, dilated pupil of that eye, and then began to fall.
Accelerating through black nothingness, until with a crash that shook the bed,
I landed There.
I opened my eyes as the words, “That was no dream!” reverberated.

All my other flying was is dreams and in all the dreams in was Night.
I don’t know what it is with having to fly at night, but it was with this history that when yesterday, at the library, my eyes happened to light upon the words, Night Flying, I stopped immediately and picked up the book.

Usually, I study the cover first to see what a book’s about.
In this case I didn’t.
I specifically wanted to discover this book with the first words of the story.
So, I deliberately sat down and began.

First, there is a family tree:
Louisa Carmelina Stravona Hansen, 1862-1924, was at the top.
Five generations lay below. I studied the names and dates:
Gilda Meredith Franklin Hansen, 1885-1953.
Isodora Cooney Hansen, 1910 –1978.

This was a matriarchal tree. I don’t belief I’d ever seen one.
And I realized I could not complete such a tree for my own life.
Furthermore, my ignornace had never crossed my mind.

I turned the page:

Night Flying.
Chapter 1.

The Hansen women have always flown at night, even in bad weather. Aunt Eva actually prefers storms. She says she makes better time that way. Though she ends up on the east end of town and has to walk back along the railroad bed if the wind isn’t blowing in her favor...

Oh. I was going to like this story! How often have I had to walk back in my dreams, caught at the southern edge of town, at night and vulnerable.

My aunt Suki stayed out all night once when she was sixteen. She went to the county line at Madison. She wanted to see how far she could go.

“That’s the danger with young fliers, “ Mama says. “They don’t know when to turn back.” Suki was in bed for two days after with a fever and cramps.

Turns out the Hansen women have a rule about only flying at night and never being found out. As the story progresses, young Georgia in a fit of anger takes off in broad daylight.

It is not a bad day for flying, but over the water, the air currents are more fierce and less predictable. I attempt to head north, but the wind picks up and I’m blown further south. I make an adjustment. This is what Eva calls it when the weather forces you to change plans. “You have to always be willing to change your mind, Georgia. Don’t get rigid in your thinking about how it should be up here. There is nothing in the sky that can’t change in an instant.” I pull my arms down to my sides in an effort to descend, but within a minute I’m blown in the direction of the mainland. There is nothing I can do. I can’t fight the wind, so I have to wait for it to change…

Fear grabs hold of me as the image of Charlotte’s gravestone comes to mind. Cold slate like the color of the dam. Charlotte flew alone before initiation, and look what happened to her. “For the one who flew too high. Dear Lord Have Mercy.”

…If someone had told me I’d be flying alone over Lake Champlain in the daylight, I never would have believed them. There was no way this morning I could have know where the afternoon would bring me.

Like Charlotte. She woke up that morning with only one thought in her mind. Skating. Skating with her father. She dressed, brushed her teeth, and kissed Isadora goodbye without much thought. Without any knowledge that it would be the last time. It makes me shiver…
I breathe in deeply and try to recall Eva’s words instead. We were flying in a hail storm last spring and Eva told me, “You may not know what’s ahead of you, Georgia. The weather could be better. It could be worse. But you can’t get stuck in the place of fear. You have to feel the fear, let it pass through you, and keep going.”

And so goes this children’s story… I haven’t finished it yet.
But, good luck with your flying. I do so hope you dream.

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