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Airplanes and Backpacks and Pelicans

She walked through her neighborhood to a coffee shop.  She makes this walk every week on her day off, hoping she will be able to make herself believe her neighborhood, overlooking the harbor in one direction and the open ocean in the other, will become somewhere new.  Somewhere she can fall in love with all over again.  She hopes she will meet somebody, as she walks through the neighborhood of paved roads and neutral colored homes, who will inspire her.  Who she can develop new feelings for, whether it be lover or friend, whether it be passion or commonalities.  She wears her orange backpack that has become worn.

Boarding her flight home from Iceland after months of traveling, a man says to her, “Good trip? When things look worn, I consider that a successful trip.”

She smiles “amazing.”

She feels silly when she sees the talkative wildlife photographer flirting with the next young female traveler at baggage claim.  Shivers run through her.  But her trip was still amazing. That backpack had been on the backs of elephants.  On speeding motorcycles over unpaved roads, desperately trying to catch her bus.  On the top of a van climbing slowly down a mountain because there was no more room inside for her or her backpack. It was full of women in their colorful saris and deep stares.  In the open beds of trucks.  In song taos and tuk tuks. Within the ancient ruins that are older than she can really understand.  On the top of volcanoes.  In icy lagoons that were stark majesty during the day and were transformed into warmth as the sun casually lowered into the horizon.  In the homes of people she respected and admired and those who she disagreed with.  In hostels meeting other young people trying to figure out why the hell they went traveling in the first place.

They can’t take away the awareness.

They can try to settle back down, but they will always have that feeling, that longing of the nervous anticipation that comes when going somewhere completely unfamiliar, terrifying, intriguing, and extraordinary.   Somewhere that will frustrate them, and bring tears to their eyes and make them smile, and make them feel more than they have ever felt.  They are alive in these new places.  Their senses are on.  Their emotions uncontrollable and absolutely breathtaking. There comes a point when the insides of airplanes are your most comfortable environment.  You can relax there.  They are all the same, whether you’re flying from Indonesia or England, that interior of your airplane you can trust to feel familiar.

Her shirt belonged to her grandfather, who she didn’t think about having a real conversation with until that day at his funeral.  It was a button up shirt with the buttons on the wrong side.  While cleaning out his studio with her family, she realized she didn’t know him.  She knew the grandfather, but not the man.

As she walked, she wondered why we don’t look up or down. The sky was filled with time as was the dirt.  The cracks in the pavement tell a story of what is happening and what has happened.  The clouds drift without a worry of time or where they are going and the trees towering over her know how to stay still.  The ancient birds that fly in formation over the ocean haven’t changed since forever ago, with their big bills and prehistoric figure. But people look straight forward, missing these details.

Why doesn’t she simply leave.  She has enough money for a one-way ticket to anywhere.  She knows she can start a life in a new country.  Why doesn’t she leave the city that frustrates her and find a fresh place she loves and feels fervor for?  She’s done it before.  Why not now?

How long would that new adoration last?


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