Finding Nowhere

The sky was scrubbed clean and smelled like I had just ripped the wrapper off a new bar of ivory soap. The sun’s stare made it sparkle and the light rained down everywhere around us, we were soaking in light. Singing in the sun shower to wash off the week.  It was a wild day.  The sky was wild, the air was wild, I was wild

I had spent days on my back, cleaning under counters, wiping down baseboards, scrubbing the belly of my plane. Creating a vacuum in my life by vacuuming every surface of it.  Getting rid of baggage and getting ready to sell my house.  I had pressured myself to complete a giant to-do list.  Slowly trudging through each item on it, I had become a human Venturi tube.  My speed decreasing with each task until I squeezed the last one out and signed the papers to put everything but my plane, and my car, up for sale.  It was done and I felt fresh. Bernoulli was right when he said the highest speed occurs where the pressure is lowest, and the lowest speed occurs where the pressure is highest. The things that had stuck to me like static cling fell away and I was free, and I wanted to go fast.  I wanted to be uncontrolled.  I wanted a wild day to do anything I wanted to, just because I wanted to. I got up and made popcorn for breakfast, just because I wanted to.  I danced in my kitchen for an hour in my underwear, just because I wanted to.  Most of all I wanted to fly Buddy, and I was waiting for the green light from Jack that he was all fixed and ready to go. I knew he would be, so that morning I was going to get new pictures taken to update my website, just because I wanted to.  Right after the restoration and our first flight, I had hired Nicole Mitchem to take photo’s of Buddy and me at Kimball’s field.  I chose Nicole because she only shoot’s in natural light and doesn’t use photoshop. Her pictures were beautiful and Whitney’s make-up made me look very glamorous, but I just don’t wear much make-up, and I’m not very glamorous.  So I wrote Nicole to ask if she could take new headshots of me, no make-up or hair person, just the way I look everyday and she actually had an opening.  I flew down the tollway to meet her with the sunroof open, hair it’s characteristic mess, wearing my favorite wrinkled white mens shirt, black mascara, pink lipstick and my giant toothy smile. I wanted to remember this week, and see if I looked as happy as I felt.  I had one last thing I wanted to do on this wild day. I wanted to get lost in the sky.

I pushed the power up and trimmed Buddy’s nose down after letting him warm up, making sure he was running good, biding time waving at the elephants, and Flanders Field at 1500-2000’ above the ground.  When he was ready we started down low.  Running hard, flying fast, surfing thermals, making noise and racing our way north across the meadows of our backyard working our way to nowhere.  It was warm and the air was rough-handed with us, tossing us across the sky, as the clouds blushed white with light.  To get lost in the sky I have to go low.  Settle down into the place below the clouds and just above the earth where landmarks disappear, and the horizon fades into humidity.  Where nothing is clear but what is wrapped tight around me in my cockpit and peripheral vision.  It’s different for everyone but when you find yourself confused, not sure of where you are?  That’s when you’re there.  Once there, you don’t try to maintain altitude or heading or orientation, you turn into light and shadow letting your plane lead were it wants. Swaying through the thermals, getting more and more lost until all you see is color and light.  Your world shrinks down to the tones and textures of the earth as the wind waves across its skin, the light raises its reflection’s, covering everything in goosebumps.  When those things become everything, and everything else in your life becomes nothing, you’re lost in nowhere.  Pilots, I know you’ve been there, you’ve seen it.  I’ve heard it in your silence, and I’ve seen it in your eyes after you turned away, hiding your tears during our flights.  We are so lucky, to visit this beautiful, peaceful space, the place below the weather and above the ground where the little things fly.  This is a sacred space. We need to be careful with it, be guardians of it.  Mindful not to carry all the things that ground us here on the ground, up there with us.  If we keep doing that we might damage it, lose the privilege to visit it.  Maybe next time you visit nowhere and get lost in the sky, you’ll bring a piece of it back with you.  When you do, share it with someone who’s never been there.  Be the light you want to see.

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