American Flyer

Joy - Sherman Oaks, California
Entered on January 24, 2007

When I was a child growing up in Los Angeles, I often flew in my dreams. I still remember the feeling of finding a point in front of me and running towards it until I lifted off and soared above people, cars, trees, houses and the dirty factory buildings near my home. Power and phone lines never stopped me, nor did the faceless man that chased me, trying to pull me down each time I flew.

Sometimes I would fly above my school playground when other children began to quarrel with one another. I had a wand that made magical music when I waved it over them and their fighting would stop. Other times I flew for the sheer joy of it. Then there were the times I’d fly to escape some dreaded unknown presence. I never did figure out what it was. Maybe it had something to do with the faceless man.

During this time of childhood fantasy, I studied piano. By the time I was eleven, I’d appeared on television several times and had performed as a soloist with the Southeast Symphony of Los Angeles. When I played the piano in the daytime, I could fly at night in my dreams.

Much later, after I’d earned a degree in voice and won some awards, I got married and built a log cabin in Alaska with my former husband. I home-birthed and raised three children in that cabin, cooked and heated with wood, fished for salmon and survived extreme climate conditions, including avalanches and volcanic eruptions. I also wrote music, did radio and performance work, recorded with the Anchorage Symphony, taught piano and voice, composed music for an award-winning documentary film, co-created an award-winning environmental awareness contest and sometimes….flew in my dreams.

That contest brought together a successful coalition of high school educators, environmental groups, big oil, the media and local government. Somehow the idea that those divergent groups could work together for the good of the land and the people took wings and flew. No one pulled it down.

I believe that ideas like that can still fly today. I believe America can still fly.

Now I’m living in Los Angeles again and I had a most wondrous dream recently. No one tailed me, no power lines, buildings or obstructions stopped me. A single mountain loomed in front of me. When I flew over it I saw a verdant valley enclosed on all sides by other mountains. The faint sound of a distant waterfall captured my attention. When I flew down to hear it more clearly, I saw and heard waterfalls on each mountain wall surrounding the valley. Together, their music rose above my every thought with unearthly beauty, and I knew that America could still fly because….I’m an American.