[from yesterday, late in the flight]
I didn’t feel it this time. Strange – that thing I call “the magic of departures”, the moment when the carousel of the journey finally catches you up and carries you along. But this time? Nothing.
Below, an endless flat white carpet of clouds. Somewhere down there, our shadow is hurtling along, diffused and diffracted. To the thousand or so villages in our path, we’re not even a flicker of light as our plane passes between them and the sun. And to us? Their villages, their lives, their stories are invisible.
I remember flying back from Accra the last time. This was right after the coup in Mali, and there were conflicting reports of Bamako, the capital, being peaceful, being under siege, being…who knows what. But that was all down there, and as Delta Flight 27 passed over that night, I looked down on the lights of the city from seven miles up. Who could tell these lights from those of any other? Glittering diamonds clustered against the black below us, like a small patch that had fallen from the night sky above. That’s all they were. The fighting, the anguish, the fear – nothing more than glittering points of light below our feet.
I’m always drawn to stories when I travel. Stories, as they say, are the things we tell ourselves to make sense of what we have seen, and they’re how we remember it. My closest friends tease me that I seem to structure my life, my decisions, so as to have the best possible stories to tell. Sure, doing X or Y or Z might be uncomfortable and unwise, but what a story it will make! Guilty as charged.
So where is the story here? I don’t know, and maybe that’s the problem. But it’ll come, it’ll come.