High Thoughts: Life's Clearer at 36,000 ft
Updated: Jan 6
For the past two and half years I've left from the same gate at Tom Bradley International Terminal; specifically when flying the LAX > LHR* flightpath - Delta codeshare, Virgin Atlantic-operated VS8 or V24, depending on what time of day you're leaving. I fly a lot**, don't judge me. After TSA, take a right, head past Pret (yes, we randomly have one at LAX ! ) and continue walking till it dead ends. Toilets & LAMILL Coffee (quite good but legit never open) are on your left, Gate 133 is on your right; my version of P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney. It's semi-ritualistic, I've left so many times, 10 to be exact, from this gate that I instinctively walk there if I'm not paying attention, and can typically tell whose on the same flight from the security hall. I've yet to find a true use for this skill, but what can I say? A girl with many talents. As I took the final trip out of LAX for the 2022 season*** #iykyk, complete with the requisite lounge visit, water bottle purchase, and American idiosyncrasies; I started to reflect on how my clearest thinking is done aboard an aeroplane.
2022 has been the year of the plane*. Aside from March & April I've boarded a flight to some predetermined destination every single month. From Business through Economy, every cabin has been entered. If you're wondering just how many flights, you can head to the bottom for the ~grand reveal~. No need to be subjected to my ramblings, you're on a mission, I get it. Back to that thought about thinking. When I say "thinking", I mean the soul-searching, perspective-shifting, life-questioning kind of thinking. I am that person dissecting the meaning of life as the flight attendant leans over to ask, "chicken or pasta"? No one knows why those are the only options in Economy when there's literal caviar in Business, but I digress. Life can get complicated and messy, staring out a window looking at clouds for hours on end is the opposite. It's simple. It reminds you that you’re merely a member on earth rather than the main character -- I know that's basically sacrilegious in 2022, but there's a difference between main character energy and truly believing people exist with you at the center. Some equate flying with anxiety, I equate flying with serenity & family. I understood early on that if you want to present that usually requires stepping foot on a plane (our family kinda be everywhere, multiple continent vibes). Flying makes me marvel and wonder at the beautiful intricacies of the world that we miss when we're on the ground, running around; when you zoom out, you realize you were running in place.
There was one particular flight (LHR > SFO) where I had a small epiphany, and my perspective shifted. It was at a point where I wasn't too thrilled to be perpetually in motion. To be fair, after cataloging my flights I was on #27 of the year, some grace is afforded. I thought and I felt that I was missing life in Los Angeles, the city where I pay rent and switch out my clothes. To say live feels too generous. The lack of distractions and endless hours till touchdown -- I usually find myself on long haul voyages, days worth of travel -- leaves room for the mind to get creative. To stop rather than push away the building thoughts, and to connect the dots on what can feel fragmented. With a book in hand, I noted: I've been present at more significant moments for the people who are important to me than has even been possible prior. My sister's graduation, our department's one-and-only in-person offsite, my grandma's 90th, my grandma's burial, 2 weddings, high tea, and snow. To name but a few. Snow's*** really the standout here, I know you're thinking it too.
The pandemic stripped us of the joy of celebration in its truest and purest form. To look the celebrant in the eye, to hug them, to cry, to laugh, to witness whatever life milestone they find themselves at; your actions displaying, "hey -- I love you and I appreciate you, yay! you!". That cup was refilled in 2022. I don't know if I'll get on the same number of planes in 2023, I'm almost positive I won't but never say never. That feeling of hope, of gleeful expectation, of levity and clarity I get staring out of a window at 36,000ft - I wish to carry that same sense of awe with me while on the ground. Even after all of this flying, boarding a plane is still one of my favorite pastimes. Here's to 2022 and the turbulence that ensued, you were good. Look, we've now begun our descent into 2023. ✈️ Catch you at LAX.
Strangely, some are very interested in all the cities and airports I've found myself in. I'll leave the 2022 flight itinerary below, for more insights, you'll have to ask.
*It should be noted while LHR was frequented often, until December, it was for no more than 72 hours at a time. Do with that information what you will. There's no deeper meaning here. Felt poignant for the people to know.
***This is not a good Short, simply for the audio
****I love snow. It makes me so happy.
Till our thoughts inevitably meet again,
(most likely twice a month)
**My 2022 Flight Itinerary
January:  LHR>LAX
February:  LAX>LHR,  LHR>LAX
May:  LAX>JFK,  JFL>LAX,  LAX>ATL,  ATL>LOS
June:  LOS>ATL,  ATL>LAX
July:  LAX>SFO,  SFO>LAX,  LAX>JFK,  JFK>ARN
August:  VST>STN,  STN>VIE,  VIE>ARN,  ARN>CPH,  CPH>ARN,  ARN>GOT,  GOT>ARN
September:  ARN>JFK,  JFK>LAX,  LAC>SJC,  SJC>LAX
October:  LAX>AMS,  AMS>BER,  BER>STN,  LHR>SFO,  SFO>LAX
November:  LAX>LHR,  LHR>LOS,  LOS>ATL,  ATL>LAX
December:  LAX>SLC,  SLC>LAX,  LAX>LHR