I watch the city fade into little blinking lights. No matter how many times I board a plane, the view always amazes me. I could be in middle-of-nowhere Midwest, the cornfields decorated with little specks of gold from cars traveling the lonely backroads, or taking flight over Las Vegas, the city pulsing with color and rhythm so vivid you can almost taste the energy.
No matter where I am the view is always the same—me above, and everything fading so small below—a degree of separation that makes me nostalgic for places I’ve been, people I’ve loved.
When I’m in the sky, it’s as if I’m disconnected, yet so deeply tied. I’m pulled away from the usual rush of my life, the constant buzz of distractions, the voices and emails and to-do lists piling up in my mind. It’s as if I’m no longer a part of everything around me. And yet, I am so deeply rooted to those ant-sized humans, to those miniature sky scrapers, to those itty-bitty houses and streets miles and miles below.
I am so far, and yet here I am—breathing, moving, humming with life. Thinking about all the moments, the memories, the laughter and the lips I’ve kissed.
Airplanes make me remember. They make me remember the first time I traveled, my suitcase double-checked and packed to the brim, my little yellow backpack filled with coloring pages and crayons, puzzle books and stuffed animals tucked neatly under my seat. They make me think about the time I flew across the country to surprise a friend, and how her entire face lit up at the sight of me. They make me think about my trip to Europe, and the way I lost myself in journals, in experiences. They make me think about the time I watched someone I loved board without me, to stay miles and miles apart with no promise of when we would see one another next.
Airplanes make me think about love, and how love knows no bounds, even with distance.
But most of all, airplanes remind me that I’m not so good at forgetting.
Because every time I settle into the window seat, every time I hook that silver belt around my waist, every time I glance out that little window at the blinking lights or the wind floating lazily through the trees, I’m reminded of people I’ve loved.
And how no matter how much time has passed, their memory will always be a part of my journey, my travels, my story.
I’m not good at forgetting the way people have made me feel. The way their kisses landed on my lips, or how tender their arms where when we shared our last hug. I’m not good at forgetting the patience in their voices, or how terrified I was when I said goodbye, not knowing how permanent that goodbye would be.
I’m not good at forgetting the airport of the man I gave my heart to, and how I had become so familiar with those sliding glass doors, those busy terminals, those trees at the entrance where I would wait, craning my neck to see his car turning around the corner.
I’m not good at forgetting the way I had loved so fiercely, feeling comforted by those stars, those lights thousands of feet below.
I’m not good at forgetting the promises I made, through distance and time and place. My love—real and never fading—until it did.
I’m not good at forgetting the goodbyes, the tears, the way I was, and still am, so tied to the people I traveled to. Our lives unfolding with every mile.
I’m not good at forgetting how young and naïve I was, believing wholeheartedly that my love was bigger than any journey, any distance. And maybe it still could be.
Honestly, maybe flying makes me remember. And maybe, in some ways, I like remembering.
Maybe I don’t want to get on a plane with no memories of the places I’ve been. Maybe I don’t want to look at all those city lights and feel nothing, when I could feel both empty and filled. Maybe I don’t want to forget the beauty, the passion, the magic, the ups and downs of a relationship still learning to navigate the miles between.
Maybe I’m not good at forgetting because I haven’t quite let go of who I was, who I am, regardless of who I love. Maybe I’m not good at forgetting because I don’t want to.
Because every time I settle into my seat and watch the skyline fade I’m reminded that love really knows no bounds—not of space, nor distance—and maybe floating in the sky reminds me of what I had. And how that love will forever be real, no matter where this life takes me.