Friday, October 29, 2010

The Opposite of Home

For whatever reason, I keep thinking I’m heading home. I keep imagining that my family and my bed are waiting for me at the other end of this 15 hour flight. I look up from reading or sleeping, and suddenly something about the direction of the cabin forces me to feel the propulsion eastward and remember where I’m headed. I’m not going home. I’m going to the opposite of home. Not only have I strapped myself into this incredibly long flight, taking me to the other side of the globe, but landing in Africa in three hours is only the beginning of this journey. There are thousands of hostels and customs desks and exotic meals between there and home. I’m certainly at my leisure to stop the parade of new experiences any time I want, but you don’t fly yourself across the planet to hang for a few days and get sick of the whole gig. If my plan has its way, it will be a year of packing and unpacking the Green Monster before the big, long flight I’m on is leading me back where I belong. And maybe by then I won’t belong there anymore.
This all feels a bit like I’ve gotten on an amusement park ride that I don’t have the option to exit any longer. I avoid any and all rides for this very reason, this feeling of uncontrollable forward motion. It’s a feeling I can recall from a kiddie ride involving airplanes at the fair from childhood… a ride that taught me not to get on any others in the future. So I’m honestly in a bit of shock to find myself sitting here, barreling along through orange Namibian clouds, on this ride with no exit that I actively sought out. I’ve veered off the Magic Kingdom tour and onto Space Mountain, this time on purpose and with full knowledge of what that entails. And I’m kinda wigging out.
But watching the tiny digital plane traverse the screen in the seatback in front of me is giving me quite a thrill every time I see which African nation we’re flying over next. No matter what happens after this, I will have been to Africa. Africa. I will have a real zebra in my passport, not a painted one. So I’m slowly but surely wrapping my brain around the wind-up to Space Mountain. I can’t imagine ever buying a ticket for this, but I’m processing the shock of my apparent purchase and imagining the whole thing might grow on me. I just might like being this girl who wakes up on airplanes taking her to the opposite of home. 
As long as there are peanuts. Are there peanuts?

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