Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Solace of Open Spaces

The view from Suicide Rock trail, San Bernadino National Forest.

A friend along the trail

From the summit of Suicide Rock, circa 7,500 feet

Gretel Ehrlich, one of my favorite writers, wrote a book about traveling, broken-hearted and in need of a change, to Wyoming called The Solace of Open Spaces. When the plane touched down in Vegas, for a second I felt selfish. What am I doing here?

Standing at the gate looking out the window, the mountains loom in a hazy distance, arid and hot. They're the spine of some great beast rising in a jagged horizon. Planes take off in rapid succession every 30 seconds or so, rounding their dark shadow like blue and white toy missiles.

I'm here because I need movement and change. I'm here because movement is my impetus to write.

On the ground, the planes taxi around like slow caged animals, waiting for direction from their keepers - the flight directors. It's 99 degree down there.

They call boarding for my flight; my heart jumps. Trucks drive by with the words, "Southwest: a symbol of freedom" written on the sides and I think how fitting that marketing message is. I watch my plane taxi to the ramp, the plane that will take me to another world, another life.

The flight attendant comes by offering peanuts in a sing song voice.

"Peanuts? Peanuts?"

No one knows the kind of journey I'm embarking on. I feel high. My heart is already in my throat, and every bump and wave of the plane sends a rush of adrenalin to my brain. I set the timer on my watch. Just 33 minutes, and I'll be in California.

1 comment:

  1. I love Gretel Ehrlich. The 'Solace of Open Spaces' is on my bedside table. I've read it front to back a couple of times, but now I just open it to a random page and read it out of context. It still works.


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