I had the grandchildren today, for the first time in almost two weeks. I was absolutely filled with joy to have them back.
But I was also absolutely beat beyond belief when they went home.
So after they left, I started dinner, and poured a big glass of wine. Then I went out into my hot tub.
I turned on the jets, aiming at the sorest parts of my neck and shoulders. I sipped. I sighed. I laid my head back against the side of the tub. And I looked up.
I saw the many stars arching above me. I saw the undersides of the trees around my yard.
And I saw the blinking lights of the jets passing by so far overhead.
I couldn’t help but wonder. Who’s up there? Where are they going?
I live in Northern Massachusetts, so I know the general flight paths that cross over my head. I know that many of the flights coming from my West will turn toward the North, to Canada and the maritimes. The ones that come from my South will eventually make their way toward the Canadian maritimes, and will then swing out across the North Atlantic toward Northern Europe, or they’ll turn toward the South and aim for somewhere to my West.
I watched the lights crossing my sky. I thought about the passengers whose flights I was seeing.
Of course I had no idea who was up there, but that’s the beauty of it, right? I was able to make them up. To imagine the lives of the people who were silently intersecting with my own life.
Maybe, on this flight from West to East, there was a woman in her 70s. Maybe she had lost her husband five years ago, and was struggling mightily to move forward into some kind of future. I pictured her opening a letter from an old friend, someone she’d known decades ago in college. “Come to visit, please!” I pictured the note saying, “I’ll meet you in Shannon and drive you out to our place in Connemara. You can meet our friends and have some fun.” I saw the women frowning, shaking her gray head. I saw her waking up in the darkest part of her lonely night, reading the note again.
I imagined her buying her ticket, telling herself to go.
I wished her all the best as her flight crossed my path.
Then there was the jet that ran from South to North, too high in the sky to have come from Boston.
On this one, I saw a young woman. I imagined her feeling stuck in a dead end job, wondering where all of her dreams had gone. I saw her in her little apartment in Charleston, eating a lonely take out meal and opening her mail.
Now I pictured her on the flight above me, heading toward a meeting with a man she had so far only met online. I could imagine her friends telling her to go, but to be careful. I saw her mother, looking very much like me, telling her not to go. Telling her that she could find someone right here, right in our very own town.
I saw her, as my head lay back against the edge of my hot tub. I saw her brown hair, recently done up with highlights. I saw the hope in her heart and the caution in her mind.
I watched her fly across my deck. I waved as she passed. I wished her luck and courage and strength and love.
Our lives cross back and forth every day with so many people we will never meet. How lovely to imagine their paths. How powerful to wish them well.