Marcela Kogan and Judy Weinberg

Boxed In by Judy Weinberg

Response

Under a Crimson Sunset I Journey to the Heavens by Marcela Kogan

Inspiration Piece

 

A cab drops me off at Kennedy airport and my mood lifts.

I’m flying from New York to Washington, after a grueling three-day visit with my parents. In an overheated 4th floor apartment, amid smells of ethnic cuisine and sounds of people arguing in multiple languages, my mother berated me for choices I made in my life.

She warned me that my life will go nowhere unless I stop writing and find a decent job, unless I got married and stop dating losers.

I’m eking out a living writing. The pay is scant but the work is noble.

Still I was scared she may be right. Riding to the airport, passing by boarded up apartment buildings, liquor stores behind bars and urine strench-subway entrances, I felt  myself tumbling into the abyss of my future.

But at the airport, amid announcements of flights boarding, plane delays and safety warnings, surrounded by lovers embracing, mothers holding babies and crews racing through security, my heart opens. I join thousands of other travelers, living in their world, sharing their excitement.

I’m swimming in the sea of humanity, feeling grateful for this privilege.

Airports are magical—the hustle and bustle of people flying all over the world, the lift to heaven a springboard to higher than heaven, the runways like red carpets rolled out for the grand entry of travelers.

I flew for the first time when I was 12-years-old. My mother and I were moving from Buenos Aires to New York to join my father, who had come to the U.S. a year earlier to work and send money home for airfare.

I had nightmares about moving and didn’t want to leave my friends. I feared I’d live out the rest of my life conjugating verbs, sentenced to never-ending English classes like those I took for five years at the Instituto Cultural Ingles, condemned to the suffocating grammatical constraints of my adolescence. On the flight to New York, I looked out the window, counting the number of clouds in the sky. I imagined myself skipping along the clouds, hopscotching all the way to America.

We touched down in this foreign land. Before stepping off of the plane, my mother whispered, “Entras con la pierna derecha.” I walked out with my right foot first, as she instructed. My throat tightened, and I wanted to cry.

I inched my way into the terminal and gazed at a festival of lights. My senses awakened as I took in the colors, sights and smells of the room—the neon signs above food stands, toys displayed in racks, kiosks selling nick knacks. Children were running in the terminal, laughing, and everyone seemed well-dressed, rich and happy.

My mother let out a throaty laugh, and hugged me. My father, waiting for us outside the gate, waved his arms calling out my name.

Twenty-years and hundreds of flights later, I still feel the splendor of travel.

I board the plane and look for my seat by the window. The man sitting in the middle, sorry to see me, steps out to let me in. I wriggle in, fumble for my seat belt, and stake my elbow on the armrest, securing my spot.

The pilot announces we’re ready to take off, his strong confident voice a lullaby. The plane accelerates, gaining momentum, and takes off. Leaning back, I put my life in God’s hands. Voices drown the sound of the engines and we drift into different worlds of our imaginations.

The captain turns off the seat belt sign. We’re free to walk about the cabin. The plane buzzes with activity,  as technology deprived passengers bolt from their seat, rip open the overhead compartments and whip out laps tops, iPods and DVD players.

Like addicts getting their fix, they sit back, sedated, their gadgets pacifiers.

“I wish we could get Internet,” the man in the middle seat mutters, frantic at being off line.

I turn my body away from him toward the window.

The sun falls below the horizon, setting the sky aglow with vibrant colors—red, scarlet, crimson and magenta merging into somber purple, violet and blue. I am flying through the color wheel of heaven.  I imagine I’m the first human being on earth, God’s rough draft of Eve. My head feels light.

I know nothing, remember nothing. I feel no shame and bear no burden.

I have no body, but my spirit flies.

I’m a clean slate, innocent, pure and curious.

On earth, I’m vulnerable to people’s opinions, but above the clouds only what I think matters.

On earth, I blame myself for making mistakes. But in the sky, closer to heaven, I’m more forgiving

On earth, time is running out. In heaven, time has no meaning.

The captain announces we’re about to land and asks flight attendants to take their seats. People put away their electronic devices and hand over trash to the flight attendant passing by.

Another flurry of activity fills the aircraft as passengers perk up in time for landing. Bursting with friendliness, passengers strike up conversations with the person sitting next to them, as if realizing, for the first time, there is someone there.

“The city looks beautiful from here doesn’t it,” says my new pal, leaning toward me, straining his neck to look out my window. I feel his breath as his shoulder brushes mine, and feel touched by this intimate gesture from a fellow man.

Coming in for a landing, my heart sinks. I feel the uncertainty of my life once again.

At the baggage claim area, lovers kiss, mothers hug sons in uniforms, fathers embrace their babies. My dark mood lightens and I ’m once again swept up in their excitement. My eyes fill with water and the scene becomes a blur. But I don’t have to see to know that love will soon come my way.

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One Comment

  1. Robert Haydon Jones
    Posted January 2, 2014 at 4:33 pm | #

    If you made this stuff up, bravo!

    If you channeled your sweet heart,
    bravo and buena suerte!

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