I sat at the top of Qinyuan Mountain in Quanzhou on Saturday morning, feeling every step it took to get there pinching the bottom of my feet. The wind was brisk and breaking. My cardigan was sheer and my t-shirt sleeves were short. My Chinese companions on the other hand were freezing and ready to check out of the hike we were on. Me? I could have sat there all day. It was the perfect chill and I was loving it. It really made me feel something. As I was resting there, just taking it in and breathing it out, I closed my eyes and thought to myself: I really am in China. I’m on top of a mountain, in China. This is not Blue Hills in Canton, MA. I’m across the world.
I really never had that cross my mind with such an impact like it did at that time. It felt bigger than me.
Hundreds of feet up. Thousands of steps later. High as hell and didn’t want to come down, figuratively and literally. My legs put in work. My heart rate was up. Not for a second did I want to quit, though. The stair-master at the gym can kiss my ass, I owned that mountain.
I saw the sun set from a different point of view that evening and it was everything I could have asked for. It was something that only the cones in your eyes could see and see it for what it truly was. Playing peek-a-boo with me in between trees as I was on my walk, demanding attention. And it did. It had all of me.
Woke up the next morning at 6 to catch a departing flight at 830. Window seat. I could see the older gentleman in front of me. I stared at him while he stared out into the clouds and the fading city under us. The average person blinks 21,600 times a day; starting at about every four seconds. Slow blinks, but constant. I was wondering what he was wondering. Was he thinking about his first dance with the love of his life? Was he trying to remember if he packed gum? Was he trying to guess how many screws it takes to secure a plane, while staring at the wing? I was.
I shifted my focus off of him and directed it outside of the little window to my left. I started smiling about some good times. About faces I miss, lips I’ve kissed, and how many seconds it takes for me to start dancing, carelessly with no apology. Chances I’ve taken and others I wish I would, then and now. I reminisced about nights I would love to do over and over and over again. In my head, I relived all of this again within the hour flight. It was one of the best hours of my life.
No one wants to think about the negative when you’re in a metal tube in the sky, but how can you not? The unspeakable: what would I do if this thing was to fail? If we land in the ocean (and live through it), will I panic and wave around hoping someone saves me before a shark enjoys me? Or will I lay on my back, floating, enjoying the water as if I was 30 feet away from a shoreline? You know I love being in and near the water. If we dive to the ground, will I survive the wreck?
Would I have my last laugh and sing a line from Ironic by Alan Morissette?:
Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
“Well, isn’t this nice.”
And isn’t it ironic, don’t you think??
IT’S LIKE RAAAAINNNNN….
Would I try to send a massive text to all my loved ones with something very Adele?
“I love all of your faces. Wish you health and happiness. You rock, don’t ever change. Much love. Peace out.”
That’s wicked me.
Would I be calm, close my eyes, and just settle to be at peace?
How would people remember me? Would they miss my smile? Would they miss my quick-wit? Would they, for a second, appreciate how honest I was even when they wish I wouldn’t be? Will there be someone regretful that they never told me how they felt? Would Miranda say “awww poor thing” in Portuguese and laugh for the both of us? Would my dad still call me a million times, wishing I would just answer one, one last time? Would my sister know I’ll still always be there for her? Would anyone tell my niece that I was a kick-ass aunt? Would my nephew remember our talks, our laughs, and how much I loved him? Would my older brother know I was never able to forgive myself for what went missing of his when I was the only one he trusted to hold it? Would my younger brother know I could not imagine life without his humor, and the great times him, dad and I had?
I can say this: I am sure that when I pass away, I will be in the middle of doing something I love.
Driving? I love singing when I drive. I was happy.
Flying? Somewhere across the country or world? Take comfort that it happened while I was traveling and I love doing that the most. I was risky.
In my bed? I love dreaming. I was curious.
After a night out? No worries. I laughed and danced that night right away into oblivion. I was free.
Just find a positive in everything like I would try.
I’ll go out being me. And I just hope I gave people enough of that. I hope I was positive, loving, and the company they wanted to keep forever. I hope I healed more than I hurt. At the end of it all, I want people to know that there was mostly tranquility in it for me because that’s who I became.
Would my mom wipe a tear and whisper “safe travels, my love. see you when you get home.” to herself, believing I was beside her, listening? That I wore the warmth and security of her and my dad’s hugs like a blanket, and that the sound waves of their “I love you (too)” looks the same as my heart’s activity on an EKG?
And then I was jerked awake by the wheels of the plane landing in Hong Kong.