I’ve never understood how people can be bored on an airplane. On nearly all of the flights I’ve been on, the majority of the passengers seem to be jaded, sighing resignedly as they close the window and ignore the handouts, just hoping for a quick trip and no screaming babies on board. I, on the other hand, read the tattered safety guidelines, flip through the magazine for the puzzles, and as the plane taxis down the runway, press my nose to the glass and watch the people, cars, and houses shrink down, looking for all the world like a diorama in a museum.
This love for flight started when I was just a young girl. My dad, a pilot by hobby, would lovingly explain all of the parts of the aircraft, pointing and commenting on all of their functions. I would stare out in amazement and watch the orchestrated precision as the flaps lifted and the landing gear bumped out. We would often fight over the cherished window seat, although he’d always let me take it, letting me absorb the beauty of the plane and watch the clouds and the world below. Back then, the plane symbolized man’s creativity and cleverness: to create a several ton structure that could somehow act as light as a feather and achieve that great dream of flight.
Now, as I have gotten older, my initial joy and wonder still remain, though I have found that the idea of flight has deepened in complexity for me. After going to math camps for several years, my closest friends – the ones who truly understand me, the ones who laud and appreciate my own unique personality and passion – all lie scattered across countries, leaving me with just books stuffed with notes, cameras filled with memories, and a profound sense of loneliness. Even though I enjoy spending time with people at my school, there’s always a sense of disconnect; they can’t comprehend my drive for science and thus can’t completely understand me, making it impossible to fully express myself here. Through flight lies an escape, a way to return to those idyllic weeks and be loved again. With just a ticket and a taxi ride, I could be laughing and joking about theoretical computer science once more. By shrinking our already interconnected world even further, flight acts as the threshold to innumerable opportunities and freedoms.
I believe in planes because of all of their multifaceted implications: that we are not alone in this world, that man’s ingenuity can triumph over anything, and that through hard work, anything is within our grasp. Though others may regard it as a chore, simply a transit to go from A to B with the oppressive master of time drilling the importance of schedules and departures, I revel in the plane’s magic in all of its wondrous symbolisms. So long as the exhilaration exists when the plane takes off, there will always be a part of me with the aircraft as it leaves behind the old and soars into countless possibilities.