I swipe my driver’s license into the self-check in machine next to the United Airlines counter. For the millionth time, my standby ticket streams out of the machine as I embark on my next adventure. As I lug my bags that pull me down like weight of the world towards the security check point, I don’t know whether I will make it on the plane or not, since my ticket past security is a standby ticket. I rush through the crazy flow of people and get lost in the moment of finding my gate. After I impatiently wait outside the gate and watch each paying passenger load the plane, I jump to the agent minding the counter where I discover whether there is extra space on the plane for me to snatch. With the good news, I thank the agent and as I hop on the plane for free.
The excitement picks up when I seat myself next to a stranger embarking on a similar, yet completely different adventure than me. By the end of our journey, we either remain strangers or acquaintances. As I take it all in, I watch one flight attendant greet any remaining passengers and another one frantically perform all final checks before departure. Finally, I click the metal seat belt across my lap and embrace the sound of echoing seat belts clicking throughout the entire plane. Each passenger has undergone the disliked security check and extensive gate wait and we are all ready to take off into the sky.
Soon, the sound of the flight attendant’s voice fills the plane and immediately grabs the attention of each seat, from front to back. I half-heartedly listen to the usual safety and procedure announcement that I have practically memorized. To a small amount of passengers, it may be the first time hearing the droning speech and for the vast majority, like me, attention is quickly lost and turned to another focus.
At last, the massive weight of the plane slowly pulls away from the gate, where it has come to rest for the past couple of hours. As we approach the climax of this grand adventure, my anticipation grows, and I wonder who else feels the rush of excitement like me. My farewell to civilization becomes real once all technology is put to sleep and suddenly all that exists are those who dwell the aircraft. It is the point of no return on the journey, which is scary, but fills me with enthusiasm at the same time.
Now I sit quietly, but squealing in my mind, as the spacious runway stresses for miles in front of me. Soon, my feet will no longer reach the ground and I will be nonexistent for a moment in real world time. Suddenly, my body jerks back against the cushion of the seat and the world around me begins to blur. I lose sight of anything outside of the aircraft and the sound of the wheels racing against the runway cancels all sound. A weight is lifted just as the wheels leave the ground and I say goodbye to my previous location.
As I lift into the air, the view of the world below me disappears, like I’m transforming into a bird, flying wherever fate wings me. Moments later, even the sight of the etch-a-sketch view of the city vanishes, and all that surrounds me are surreal, fluffy white clouds. Once the aircraft has reached a constant speed, I am gliding through the air, some forty thousand feet above earth’s surface. A feeling of loneliness fills my heart, but eagerness overwhelms and I feel alive. All my fears and worries dematerialize. The seat belt restricts me, as I wish I could glide alone next to the plane, like an angel. Suddenly, the shake of turbulence awakes me from my trance.
Before I know it, hours have passed and the…