It’s Kind of a Miracle


So. I spent all day yesterday travelling.

Woke up at 6:30 AM, Pacific time. Washed up and got dressed. We had packed our suitcases the night before, so all we had to do was toss a few last minute items into our bags.

We didn’t have time for a real breakfast, so my husband and our two friends and I went to the general store at the lodge where we’d been staying. We got our coffees and our slightly stale muffins. We checked out of our place in Yosemite National Park and shoved all of our luggage into the trunk of our rental car.

Katja, Paul and I were passengers, and Katja’s husband Jorg was our driver.

When everyone had a coffee in hand, and everything had been safely packed, we headed out for our four hour journey from vacationland to the airport. We laughed a little and shared photos and talked about our next adventure. Then we all slumped back in our seats and let Jorg maneuver his way through rush hour traffic.

When we finally made our way to San Fransisco, we had to stop for gas, then make our way to the rental car return. When that task was finished, we lugged all of our bags through the car rental building and onto the airport transit.

It was a sad time, saying goodbye to our German friends for at least a year. We hugged and laughed and thanked each other, but all of us were focused on getting ourselves home.

Paul and I grabbed our bags and headed down the escalator, through the building and into the concourse. Ten minutes of walking found us at our departure gate, and we checked our bags and got our seats.

The flight loaded, we flew to Detroit, then we raced across what felt like 50 miles of airport to make our connecting flight, worried the entire time that our luggage wouldn’t make it.

Because we had forgotten to take our car keys out of said luggage, and if we got to New Hampshire while our keys were in Detroit…..well. You can imagine.

But, the bags were checked and we couldn’t uncheck them. We stood in line for our seats, and finally boarded our flight home.

After sitting for what felt like an hour on the tarmac, the plane finally took off. I had my book open on my lap, but I was too nervous to read it.

By now we’d been awake for some 14 hours. We were tired, anxious, and pretty cranky.

And as our plane took off, I thought about how miserable I was. I was sitting in the world’s smallest seat, breathing in stale air and feeling my ears pop.

I was in a skinny metal tube, filled with the exhalations of a hundred other humans who had spent the day eating nothing but cheetos and pre-packaged salami sandwiches. All of us were exuding stale sweat, dirty foot aroma and salami/coffee/cheeto breath.

We were elbow to elbow in a tin can, trying to pass the time by watching videos that none of us could hear over the roaring of the jet’s engines.

I was not happy.

I wanted out.

I wanted out NOW.

I felt my neck muscles cramping as I sat there with my knees raised and my neck bent. I was not a cheery traveler.

But I glanced out the window as the plane rose through the sky. The full moon was out there, seemingly right beside me. Down below, I saw the twinkling lights of an American city.

I felt us rising into the air, and suddenly I found myself remembering the scene in the old “Peter Pan” movie, when the children found themselves magically able to fly.

I felt us rise.

I felt myself rise.

I put my hand to my heart and leaned into the window, watching the lights of Detroit as they faded below me.

“This is a miracle,” I thought.

And it was.

We had woken up in a Yosemite Park lodge, and now we were in Detroit. We were heading home.

In less than one day, in only 15 hours, we had crossed the entire continent. A journey that at one time took a full year had been completed in a little more than half of one day.

It was a miracle.

In spite of the cramped space, the waiting in lines, the dragging of suitcases, the bad food, it was so so worth it.

We can now travel across continents in the time it took our ancestors to cross a township. We can wake up in the middle of a Ponderosa Pine forest and go to bed in a maple grove.

Now our biggest challenge, I think, is to appreciate that reality.

We live in an age of miracles.

Who Are They?


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.

Who are you up there?