Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Coming home

"Out on runway number nine, big 707 set to go... So I'd best be on my way, in the early morning rain."

I've always loved flying.

You feel at peace high above the clouds. The white waves before you look so inviting you can almost touch them, like a fresh blanket of newly fallen winter snow.

You can clear your head up here. Contemplate life. "Figure out," as my favorite TV detective once said flying in T.C.'s chopper, "what it is you need to do."

That is until an infant four seats up starts squealing. Then you can't wait to get on the ground.

People are funny. One guy two seats up ignored the "fasten seatbelt" sign and started fumbling with his overhead compartment as we began the descent into Knoxville. I had visions of his entire luggage falling down around us. He finally got everything situated and sat back down.

The baby finally stops crying. I get in a few more pages of Hemingway before landing.

We pass over familiar spots. I-40. The Tennessee River. "I'll-kill-ya" Highway. (Also known as Alcoa Highway.)

The person behind me jumps up as soon as the plane lands. No matter that all the people in front of her had to get off the plane first. That didn't matter. She was locked and loaded.

Nobody knocks us over in the Knoxville airport. Strangers wave and smile. There's room to walk down the concourse.

"You folks coming back from Detroit?" the security agent asks.

"Yes, sir, we are."

"Thanks," he says, and smiles. "Have a good night."

The sun has set on another perfect vacation. But it's always good to come home.

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