There’s been only a very short period in my life when I’ve enjoyed flying. And enjoyed was probably not what it was. Probably fatigue, a soured relationship that exists near the back edge between the first months’ bliss and the final months’ disgusted disinterest. The area of empty casualness.
My life in Berkeley involved flying. Lots of it. Los Angeles. Austin. Las Vegas. New York. London. Chicago. Seattle. Portland. A never-ending turntable of activity that numbed me to my own fear, drowned in a ever-flowing sea of airport booze (the best booze!).
Even still, I never slept the night before a flight. Up all night. All. Night. A few precious hours of sleep, maybe. A habit that I still have. A habit I still have for many things. I never sleep the night before I teach. Never the night before presentations.
Always, the night before.
I think of two people before I fly. My friend, who is righteously afraid of flights, and an ex-girlfriend. This story isn’t about the friend, although I have tales. It’s not even really about the ex-girlfriend, although I have tales.
But it’s more about the ex-girlfriend than it’s not. There’s just not any one story that comes to mind right now. She is married now, living somewhere near her hometown. She is finishing up her graduate degree. She still smiles like she used to.
She is the first girl that I flew with. In many ways.
Sometime within the last year I found a peace about my death, a comfort in the coldness of it all. I suspect this is a function of my age, although I can’t really be sure as I’ve not been this age before.
I can feel my body starting to slow down. My heart drags sometimes. There are small lapses. Things do not process as they once did. I have accepted my inevitable disappearance from the world. My untapped talents. My failed-ness. There are simply things I will not do in my lifetime.
These are not comforting thoughts. And yet. I feel at ease with my disappearance. The inevitable.
I suspect this is serenity. But this story is also about flying.
Somewhere within the last 17 months, I have learned to walk away from things.
I have not yet mastered how to do this with class and style. Nor have I mastered the subtle fineness of when I must leave and when I am simply acting from my other place. The one that grew in the darkness of the alcohol, fed by my own failings and desires.
I am able to leave behind those damaging relationships, the kinds I would once gravitate towards. I have found walking away to be easier than I have imagined when I have simply let go of the anchor of expectations and allowed people to be what they are.
When I realized the arrogance of believing I was responsible for someone else.
Not that every relationship I’ve walked away from was bad. That leaving also involved The Muse, an explanation that I fear she will never understand and that I will never be able to give. Because of the things that came before I learned about walking away.
There is, it seems, a price for all things.
I paid more taxes tonight. The Next Right Thing taxes, a toll I would have avoided in the not-to-distant past.
This is all part of my ritual. My inventory. My pre-flight check-in, the one not dependant upon any flight. Which I actually happen to be on tomorrow, making this even more confusing that it probably needs be.
Because this started off as an essay on anxiety. Then flying. Then living clear. And finally the price that comes with that.
Which about sums it up.