I don’t like flying, so usually I try to fall asleep before or during takeoff and to stay that way if I can. It might have seemed even easier to do Saturday, when I returned to Chicago from San Antonio. I’d been up until after midnight, packing and digesting my niece’s fifteenth birthday dinner (held at Chuy’s), I’d woken up several times during the night, and I got up at 4:35 a.m. to catch my 6:50 a.m. flight (selected because it was the most cost effective). I hadn’t slept well the night before, either, thanks to the pinched nerve and muscle spasms episode. And, as it turns out, I was also in the throes of late PMS, which drains me and my energy like a vampire. With all that going for me, you’d think I’d have passed out the moment I was seated.
You’d be wrong. I was fully alert during the entire takeoff process and couldn’t even will my eyes closed.
As the Caribou Coffee slogan goes, “Life is short. Stay awake for it.” I’m glad I did. Before I succumbed to exhaustion mid-flight, I experienced something magical — the sensation of flying in the dark over the moon.
The sun had not quite risen, and when I looked out my port window, the just-past-full moon was beside and below me, and soon behind me, among the clouds in the deep blue sky. For a moment, my heart felt as though it were within touching distance of its strongest desire. I was so moved that, after making sure he wasn’t asleep, I tapped the shoulder of my seat mate, a stranger, and demanded that he “look at that.” He did, and said, “That’s pretty,” before he returned to staring at the bulwark in front of us.
“Cold-hearted orb that rules the night . . .” And my heart.