I board what has to be the narrowest regional jet in the entire country, and promptly fall asleep for half the flight to Denver. It is very uncomfortable.
I read An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken and it is moving and beautiful. I dog-ear a particular page for this passage: “Of course you can’t out-travel sadness. (…) I travel not to get away from my troubles but to see how they look in front of famous buildings or on deserted beaches. I take them for walks. Sometimes I get them drunk. Back at home we generally understand each other better.”
I finish the book and now there is nothing to do but look out the window, since my backpack had to be gate-checked with all my life-distractions enclosed therein. It is flat. It is very, very flat out there. Snow covers everything. I see the filament-fine thread of a road crossing the plains, angling away into an endless horizon. I see the circles of crops, outlined in snow and geometry. The man in the seat behind me exclaims in amazement at a cluster of nine, awkwardly arranged. He continues to comment on the obvious throughout the remainder of the flight. I have a fleeting moment where I wonder if his companion is perhaps blind.
I see the rippled veins of drainage rivers spread below, and then evaporate into flat, seamless, white skin. I do not want to see flat anymore. I want to see my mountains.
I want my mountains. Where are my mountains?
This reminds me of Bart Simpson stamping his foot and angrily demanding his elephant. This makes me smile.
There is still just flat. There are square and rectangular plots of farmland among the circles. I wonder how I would describe them to a blind companion. I decide on, they are the color and texture of velvet. The snow doesn’t settle on them.
I want my mountains.
I hear the engines whine down slightly. The mountains must be getting close if we’re winding down. The only thing I consider wanting more than my mountains is a bathroom, but the mountains still stay in first place. I’m seeing more hilly areas now; crop circles are jammed into random flat spots among the waves. I see Pac-Man with his mouth open chasing dinner in a slightly larger depression.
A river, fir trees flanking it, a larger road with a lone semi-truck casting a shadow. Then it is flat again. I am frustrated, hungry, and have to use the bathroom. I wonder if perhaps the people on the left side of the plane can see my mountains, and I am suddenly jealous.
I want my mountains.
Then, the engines whine down again, and the plane banks to the left, and then, framed in the oval of my window are my mountains. They look small from here, but long and tall, stretching to an endless cloudy horizon. They are the darkest blackest shade of green at the base, and blindingly white on top.
Hello, I say, and then suddenly get the strangest and yet completely calm thought that I am now finally arriving home.