I used to hate flying: fear of death. Now, because I'm often flying to or from a catastrophe, I love it. I don't even mind the middle seat. The whole week I was at my parents' house, I looked forward to that ecstatic few hours when I would be free—free mostly of the fear that something would happen that would keep me there.
What with my sister-in-law's unsettled estate generating unexpected expenses, I get panic attacks about opening envelopes with a Massachusetts postmark. With my parents' failing health, I get panic attacks when I see the area code 415 in my caller i.d. And e-mail can bring bad news from both fronts. In the air, free from e-mail, snail mail and voicemail, I am unreachable.
(Sadly, my freedom was short-lived. I got home from San Francisco on Sunday at midnight. Tuesday my father had a fall, banged his head and generated such a bloodbath that the home-care agency called me at work. Somehow I wrassled my father into going to the VA emergency room, where they kept him till Friday. Somehow I failed to wrassle my mother into submission. I ordered full-time home care for her in my father's absence, and she canceled it. I ordered it again. She rebelled. Ach! How can I get any work done when the 'rents won't obey!)
When I was a child, I loved this poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. And it has a bit of the cut-loose feeling I have about flying now:
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!