Irene: “How many launches are there each day, Vincent? A dozen?”
Vincent: “Sometimes more.”
Irene: “You’re the only one that watches all of them. If you’re going to pretend like you don’t care, don’t look up.”
Sound of the Otter’s twin turbines whine past, Doppler shifting as it makes another run past the station. I can’t see the window from where I sit, but it’s close enough to hear; today I’m not going to watch.
Remember how I said I tend not to miss things once they’re gone? I guess that’s in play here. Puttering around on the ice sheet here, driving a Cat, wandering through the Station – it’s all good. It’s only when an Otter comes flying through camp that I remember how I’m chained to the ground here. How being up in the air, feeling the wind against a wing, shaping it with my hand and riding it where I will – how that makes me feel alive in a way nothing else can. Sitting in the left seat yesterday – I felt something stir again, the awakening of that possibility. It was a memory: yes, this is a part of me, this is a piece of what I am. It felt really good.
This morning Erica told me she had to defer to station management for an okay for me to come along on this morning’s flight. Management was apologetic, but they had a tough balancing act – other folks with a lot more ice time wanted to go, and there were only four seats. It would be awkward. So again, the Otter’s making its circuits in low passes above the station. I’m listening to the sound of the PT-6’s; I can hear the subtle change in pitch when she banks, feel the tug of the air on wings as she rolls into a turn. I can hear it all. But today, I’m not going to look up.