Coffee in the Clouds

High in the air rises the forest of oaks, high over the oaks soar the eagle, high over the eagle sweep the clouds, high over the clouds gleam the stars high over the stars sweep the angels

Heinrich Heine

I like early morning flights!

Me with my traveling mug, hot coffee yes please

I like the calmness at the airports as people groggily make their way to their terminal. I like how small the lines are and how quickly you can get through TSA. I like how there is a line outside of Starbucks as people wait for that 5 am bell when they throw open the gates to let in the coffee zombies.  I like that bubbling brewing sound.

I like how you don’t see people making the mad dash to their gates, weaving in and out of traffic, or the millions of kids yellowing, crying, talking, and complaining. Some of them are excited, they are going somewhere magical. They hold their parents and shyly peeking out behind dad’s leg. But what I like most of all about early morning flights is…

Coffee in the clouds. 

On many flights, I have sat in the window seat, gazing at the world below.  I wonder about things like what does a cloud tastes like or where that cloud is going? Is a cloud as soft as it seems or hard?  Is there someone in the other plane, we pass, that is looking out their window at me?

The roar of the airplane as it gently soars above the clouds and the snoring of the man sitting across me, his gaiter shoved over his face not only to protect him from COVID-19 but the light.

Morning view of the Andes

Most of the passengers on this flight are passed out, having to be at an airport and on a plane before the sun rose. They are quiet. There are some busy ones typing on the laptops, but everyone seems to agree that it is quiet time. 

It is these moments that made me fall in love with traveling.   

People seemed to have a love-hate relationship with flying. In one aspect, it is peaceful, the world looks different, the houses are small, the cars are small, and the people are small. It is, its own retrospect, the great equalizer.  It’s tough to tell a poor class neighborhood from an influential one. You can’t tell a black person from a white person.  They are all there because they are, not for any rhyme and reason you are aware.  They all are the same.

The other aspect it can sometimes be bumpy, dirty, and stressful.  It is making the flight, cutting through people only to end up jammed in a tin can that is being launched into the air.  Once in the air, you are at the mercy of the air currents, clouds, and weather patterns. It can be smooth sailing or rough landings.

As I sit here drinking my coffee and glazing at the outside window, my mind drifts, playing lazy games among the clouds. My Starbucks is a half-drank and half-cold. A flight attendant pass by the man next to me, he just put on his hoodie, as he tries to sink more into Slumberland.

It is what I think of perfect peace.

Flying over Chicago, Illinois

It’s 8 in the morning on a western flight to Denver.  The sun is chasing us, its light rays playing among the clouds, and a winding river is below. I am not sure where I am.  It is hard to see state boards and land markers blend into the land. My guess is one of the many states that are along the pathway between Florida and Colorado.

Taking a sip, I look down. There really isn’t anything to see. We are going faster than it seems, speeding at 500 miles per hour. Not enough time to make too much of a study in human drama that is going on below.

My traveling mug waiting to board a plane

The clouds are not helpful; they seemed to be abundant today, covering the land with a thick cotton blanket.

The sky is bluer up here, and I peeked up, trying to see outer space. I know I cannot, but the child in me always wonders where the sky ends and space beings.

Other than the repetitive drum of the engine that lures its passengers to sleep, it is peaceful.

Just the way I like it.


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