I'm sleepless above Istanbul.
Skimming the tops of trees, teasing the surface of water, caressing the harvested golden down of wheat, a tiny airplane ripples through rolling landscapes. Its sister, reflected in the blue glass, powders her cockpit nose in the face of wind, leaving behind puffs of exhausted vanities. The always lagging thunder that follows betrays its peaceful gliding and for a moment the people down below are aware of the plane up above, but perhaps not so much of the people in the seats and never of you, sitting in 36D.
The body of the aircraft shakes like a just-touched Rembrandt thigh. I pause to check that we are not losing altitude and resume my rigid sans cible stare as the vibrations wane into a reassuring hum.
Flight attendants slide the raided trays back into their slots as we fly in parallel to breakfasts on wooden tables and morning coffee on sidewalks. Strapped to our stiff seats by seat belts that would bow their heads before their automobile comrades, we are breaking the curse of our featherless arms. And so are the hundreds of other passengers flying over land, ice and water.
I try to tap into the collective consciousness of this planet, hoping to be aware at once of its day and night, rain and sunshine, sands and rocks, winds and caves, bakers and butchers, gluttony and famine, orgasms and abstinence, raves and prayers, croissants and sushi,
oligarchs and war, wide avenues and walled-in communities, silverware and paper cups, sexy black trash bags and oil spills, elephants and jellyfish, funerals and weddings, a baby born in India and a baby dead in England, McDonalds and Italian mothers milling about in their cucinas, Argentinian cowboys and The Naked Cowboy, ballet classes and working the rice fields, smell of freshly brewed tea in Kerala and ground coffee in Brazil, sewage and blinding white Grohe toilet bowls, an ant on my kitchen counter and a cockroach at my neighbours', the size of Russia and the size of a human embryo, Mahler in the morning and Mahler in front of a fireplace, bottled water and wine, sip, sip, crunch, munch, slurp, step, tread, slam, sigh, sniff, cough, sneeze, fart, wince, TURBULENCE, heart drops to tail bone, speed of plane exceeding expectations, shit, something fell, am I going to greet the
world below as a pancake?
Khaiii, for a moment I considered air crash. In that case, I'd imagine my heart would start drumming, but I would remain calm, close my eyes really tight and start letting go...I once heard that sleepwalkers are more likely to survive a hard fall than those who are awake. Why is death teasing me these days? No. Why is my mind so aware of it? This was just customary turbulence, with the same soundtrack of seat belts being fastened, flight attendants' footsteps hurrying up and down the aisle, the pilot telling us to return to our seats, the radio crackles peppering his speech quarantining him in a far away safe place, away from vulnerable panicky us, making us all want to tell him to shut up because what does he know sitting in his invincible cockpit that will detach upon engine failure and drop him to safety in Zagreb where he will emerge a hero from beneath the red exhaling parachute.
This invention of flying never ceased to astound me. I am in awe that if I decide to wake up in Tokyo, I can catapult myself a couple of hours into the future and be there to greet the rising sun.
The labour in my grandparents' orchard would wake up at 4am, mount their donkeys and hiccup the mountain side, so that they could start the day's work at 7am and finish at 4pm, so that they would be home before sun down. By then I will be all the way across the world.
Like atmospheric dust. Like magic.