The same horizon.

My flight left from O’Hare’s F terminal, a neglected wing made up of intricately lettered and numbered gates. Outside, it was uniformly grey, from the sky to the tarmac, the jetways to the trucks carrying black suitcases and colorless in-flight meals. Grey, grey, grey. Oprah shouted, muted, on a TV across the way; she has a sister now. Like bingo hosts, gate agents shouted letters and numbers at random: gate changes, flight delays and estimated arrival times.
When my flight’s number was up, I shuffled to the gate, pinged my ticket and ducked through the entrance to the tiny Embraer puddle jumper, the Barbie fun jet, that would take me to Louisville, where I’ll spend the next six days living out of my little blue suitcase.
I’m certain I forgot something.

The force of take-off pulled me back against my seat; I closed my eyes to fend off the dizziness and pressure. It didn’t occur to me that the sky would look any different as we sailed above the cloud cover; these aren’t the sorts of things I think about when I fly. I’m not sure what I think about when I fly.
But tonight, when I opened my eyes, my tiny plane had become an ocean liner, sailing a sea of snowy-white winter clouds tinged with dark blue, rippling through the thick, industrial-plastic windows with every move of my head.
The horizon was a glowing mimosa, a soft yellow with streaks of brilliant pink and purple, crowned by a searing red orb so bright it hurt to look at. I did it anyway.
The setting sun cast a roving glow over the inside of the plane, little boxes of orange light setting passengers’ faces on fire against the opposite wall.
An older man in the aisle seat next to me had a salt-and-pepper mustache and pockmarked skin; I’d place him in a generation that still fervently believes in getting up every morning and dressing in a blazer and dress pants, putting in a full day’s work, finding satisfaction in a job well done. He scrawled boldface comments in neat, straight lines across the back page of a paper about critically ill patients; I wondered what could be so captivating about his article that he didn’t even notice that sky was magic.
And it never stops. The sky never stops; the magic never stops. We don’t live in a snow globe or a terrarium. Infinity is up there. Out there. Pure nothingness. Or everything-ness. Forever and ever, amen.
Does the man in the aisle seat ever even consider that? Or did he stop imagining what was beyond him with the startling realization he’d find out for himself, for sure, sooner or later?
Back on the ground, the lukewarm orange of fluorescent streetlights snaked out from the center of some nameless Rorschach of a city. They’d had sun today. I wonder how it looked to them as it set, all the way down there.

It’s funny to think their horizon was the same as mine.


10 Responses to “The same horizon.”

  1. ParkRidgeDDS Says:

    Captivating…made me want to read more. Thank you.

  2. Paige Worthy Says:

    @ParkRidgeDDS – Thank YOU!

  3. Joe Says:

    You captured precisely why I love to look out the window while flying. You see some truly amazing and inspiring things from up there.

    Thank you.

  4. Gabriel Says:

    So THIS is what you see when you fly with your eyes not scrunched shut so tight your temples throb.


    I might try that one day.

  5. Abigail Says:

    I’m giving you Stylish Blogger Award! And just in time for National Compliment Day. 🙂 I love your blog! Not sure why the award is called “stylish” as opposed to just “good,” but hey, I won’t complain! (Don’t feel pressured to participate–I just wanted to recognize you!)

    Here are the details:

    Recently I got a stylish blogger award. I am passing it on to you because I love your blog and want to get it read by even more people. See my recent post for the list with your blog on it!

    So here are the rules for acceptance of the award:

    1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
    2. Share 7 things about yourself.
    3. Award 5 recently discovered great bloggers.
    4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

    There is a button that goes with the award. Click on mine and copy the properties into your own blog.

    Rock on!

  6. Tweets that mention The same horizon. -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paige Worthy, Joe Wojtowicz. Joe Wojtowicz said: why do i like window seats at 36K ft? @paigeworthy says it better than I can. […]

  7. bwh Says:

    Clearly, the man across the aisle … well, his head only went up as high as the clouds beneath your feet.

  8. Philip L Says:

    Thanks Paige.
    You transported me back to the first time I ever flew and was captivated by the beauty of the fluffy castles and creatures created by the great cloud sculptor in the sky.
    It was a long time ago (not quite Wright brothers) and I was off on the first of my subsequent international adventures. A naive 20 year old on a mission to save the world.
    That was before I became a cynical old Englishman….. but no matter how many times I fly the wonder of the first look above the clouds has never diminished.

  9. Philip L Says:

    @Paige Worthy
    Don’t ever stop smelling the roses Paige… sometimes a thorn will catch your nose but the consistent pleasure is worth the occasional pain

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