Originally written on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 (EVA Air BR35: YYZ-TPE)
Just over 13-months ago I was leaving for what I thought would be the adventure that brought me to where I am finally heading. After seven months of some of the most euphoric highs and unruly lows South Korea became just another pin on the map; a pin that changed my perspective on culture, opened my eyes to a part of the world that always intrigued me and ultimately emulsified my ambition to delve as seep as I could into the history, personality and gastronomy of the world.
As the jet engines screech and the airplane torpedoes off the runway I follow the routine that my father has maintained through his many years of flight. The cardinal rule: shoes stay on until after takeoff. Feel free to settle yourself and engage in normal in-flight activities while waiting to depart. The paper, a good novel, some soft tunes are always par for the course. Allow for casual conversation with an unfamiliar isle-mate or banter amongst friends and family. The screens will drop down from above the seats, safety prompts will cue and emergency instructions amplify over the intercom; respectfully ignore them. Continue as you are while you taxi to the runway and then--stop.
You are about to engage in the miracle of flight. Set down your reading material, pause the album you're listening to and be mindful of what is about to take place. I always countdown from ten a the thrusters howl and the ground speed increases; my personal addition to the ritual. The rumble of tens of thousands of pounds of metal and complex machinery soon to be lifted off the ground and passed though multiple layers of climate, 35,000ft above where we normally plant our feet. I'm always taken aback when I meet someone who's never flown before. Then, I try to put it in perspective; the fantastical element of the fact that something so magical, so complex, has become an act met with anything less than awe. I think that my father is humbled by the aircraft, and so am I. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6...as the countdown concludes the front wheels push upwards as the angle of the wings steepen. With one final thrust from the turbines, the back end of the winged beast bounds free of the pavement.
There's a unique feeling in your loins with the weight of the air, and air alone, all around you. The first swooping kick into the air is almost tantric. Somewhere between you abdomen and your ass it moves. What is it? I'll likely never know. But, that feeling is as intense, as it is almost impossible to detect. It is as soothing and sensuous as inhaling the aromas of a freshly poured glass of wine. It envelopes the deepest, most hyper-sensitive areas of your innards, and at that moment, and rarely sooner does it all settle in.
This is where I am going. I am on my way. Pick your book back up. Pop the earbuds back in. Take off your shoes. Let the journey begin...