Thursday, January 05, 2006

A mile high blog

I’m not a nervous flyer, but there’s a moment right after takeoff that always gets me a little—as the plane ascends, angling steeply upward, the feeling of forward momentum ebbs, leaving me looking down at ground that is still a little disturbingly close and the sense that we are hanging precariously in the air without moving. It’s a moment that always makes me think of Douglas Adams’ description of the alien ships at the beginning of The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy: “They hung in the air the way bricks didn’t.”

So I’m writing this entry mid-way back to the Rock, sitting in the second-to-last row of an Air Canada Jazz CRJ-705, a small two-engine regional jet that looks a little like a Gulf Stream’s poor cousin. There’s a sticker on the back of the seat in front of me that helpfully says “Coming soon to this space in front of you: a digital audio/video system YOU can control.” I’m thinking seriously of removing it and placing it on the back of one of my car’s headrests.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering why I neglected to put a DVD in my carry-on, given that taking my laptop home for the holidays did little more than make my bag annoyingly heavy on the way out and back. Always I have such utopian plans for the work I’ll get done over the holidays, and always I do next to none of it. At least I could have watched a movie for however long my battery would hold out (not long, I think). One year I will learn.

Ah well. At least I can bash out a few words to cut and paste into the blog when I get home. It passes the time, at any rate.

Very strange it is to be returning home after three weeks vacation—it will be an adjustment, and not just for the weather (though I’ll be sure to include a “Holy Crap!!” at the snow to keep Lesley happy). It was a lovely Christmas and New Years’ (though my unwise packing for the trip means that the balance of my Christmas gifts will have to come by mail in the next little while), made even better by the fact that I was able to spend nearly a week in London with Kristen, and to see a lot of friends in the old burg. London, in its odd way, still felt like home—I guess living somewhere for eight years(!) makes its streets and landscapes second nature, in a way St. John’s has yet to do for me (weirdest thing about walking around London? It felt impossibly flat after five months of my new home’s steep inclines). Hitting old haunts and relaxing at Kristen’s in the mornings doing crosswords and reading the paper over coffee made me feel painfully nostalgic and more than a little sad.

Which is not to embark here on a maudlin sentimentalization of London; far from it. The best things there for me are the people, and I certainly cannot complain about the circumstances that took me away to Newfoundland. Even as I mope a bit in the inevitable post-holidays depression (and gird myself for another long stretch of missing Kristen), I’m pretty excited about the new semester. One thing you can say about a curriculum entirely composed of half-courses: while aggravating on some fronts, it allows for a renewal every semester. I do rather like starting from scratch, and I’m looking forward this weekend to getting myself set to go. Replete with new clothes for Christmas!

I love airplanes and airports for that reason—they signify transition and change and possibility. Even if they do sometimes feel like they’re hanging in the air like bricks.

Like how I came full circle on that one?


Lesley said...

Standing 'O' for the full circle (you see what I did there?). The comment about taking off reminded me of that feeling. I actually really hate it. It's that weightlessness that you get that seems to make you think that something about the entire situation isn't right and sooner or later you're going to catapult back to earth and not land in one piece.

As for London. I understand completely what you mean. Even though London is more home to me than you, I can get what you're saying about places and memories. It's almost like you have zero time to enjoy these moments even though you've been there for a week. And parting is very hard.

Hoping you had a safe trip back. Eagerly anticipating the snow comment! Unless NF got the rain that we've all experienced that has melted all the snow. Well, I guess that would be good for you, but not for us who love the "when I was in Newfoundland, the snow was higher than the CN tower" stories.

jo said...

O, I love that weightless feeling! It's the best part of flying--that and the taxiing for take-off. Happy Epiphany or Twelfth Night today (January 6). Wishing you many revelations of the divine and not too much snow, or rain--though, as you know, the rain it raineth every day--sorry: writing Shakespeare lectures right now. Good times!