August Twenty Fifth, September First: In Flight

Ryan Heller
Sometimes the words escape me. The feelings overwhelm. A lump in my chest that rests for days, makes waking life a reason to fall back asleep.
I have not gone to an AA meeting in two weeks. I have stopped doing the things that keep my head balanced. My outlook sane.

Consistently inconsistent.
I feel out of sorts. Out of shape. Unkempt and unattractive.

Like the possibilities of endless opportunity are forever out of reach. It’s the same old same old. The same songs. Same lyrics. I’m ready for the ticket, to get in another line, to find myself in a new role. This scene has edged on for what seems like years. But I want more.


The story of my life. Itching like a fiend for whatever is just around the corner. Staying up ten more minutes in case I might miss something. Watching one more episode because the last eight weren’t enough. Another cookie till my stomach hurts.

Chris is passed out on the seat next to me, my worn light denim button down draped over him like a blanket.  We are in flight back to Fort Lauderdale from Pennsylvania after a few days visit for his grandfathers funeral. I hug my body, earphones streaming Florence and the Machine’s “No Light, No Light”, typing with a thumb on my iPhone. We are in the back row.

I look out the window to a vibrant blue sea of sky lined with white clouds of cotton that stretch on to an infinite horizon. A curtain of haze that acts as a visual barrier in the distance.

God. I want to jump. I want to be consumed by the open sky, the blue. The golden sun that paints the clouds would graze my skin and envelop my body. I would float in the stillness. Exist in the fold of space and earth. In the clouds. I drift aimlessly by the current of soft breeze that holds me like a mother, glides my weightless shell through time. My skin begins to glow and radiate into a brilliant clarity until it ceases tangibility. My arms. Legs. Chest. I disappear into the universe. A nothingness that is everything. And I am something that is nothing but exists in everything. I am of the universal fabric.

An infant raised into the black emptiness of space, resting in the palm of a single hand. Lifted. Surrounded by pink and blue lining, a light that exists beyond the universe.

My thumb cramps.

Chris awakens and taps my side. “What are you doing?” Eyes groggy, a half smile on his face.

And it’s moments like that I am grateful for. When I get lost in my head, in my mental rabbit hole, and a simple tap on the arm by a dazed love will pull me back. Even if for that second. I have relief. Releasing the measuring tape when I was 12 feet deep.

Because my mind wanders.


* * * * *


One week has elusively passed and I am back on a plane from Pennsylvania to Fort Lauderdale. This time for something much different. Last minute we booked a flight after realizing the farm for our wedding had to be confirmed for next year. So life hiccupped and we headed to the airport once again.

And in that one week of being back home, the fog in my head cleared. I had felt stale, inconsistent, worn. There was dissonance in the balance. I needed movement, a breath of life where the cards had become stagnant on the floor.

Nothing is permanent. And that idea sunk in my head like pee melting into snow. A simple fact of life I seemed to overlook in the manual. I no longer had to feel like shit.

The mere acknowledgement of this concept is near evangelical.

So I began to go to bed an hour earlier. Brushed my teeth and washed my face before crawling under the covers. I woke up to walk on the beach with Chris or run around our neighborhood before work. I got a haircut, went food shopping, killed the excess of sugar consumption that had peaked my weight. A morning routine slipped back in along with a few AA meetings and a refocus on what is important. Who is important.

One week.

Something happens where the future and past begin to merge with the present. When it all seems much less linear and more of a fluid, constant thing. Like it is all happening now, existing at once in an almost singular moment or experience. A tidal wave. A black hole. A galaxy of its own.

And I can see stars, open space, the endless twinkling of pinhole-sized lights that stretch on in an infinite fish eye lens orbiting around my existence. My spirit. The color brown seems significant and is streaked against the blackness of the universe. Glowing waves of light, purple hues, deep gray undertones.

I don’t know what it all means.

“Eyes on the Prize” by M. Ward gently fills my headphones as I type. The window has been closed by the passenger next to me, but I look across the aisle to an open view that shows a deepening blue-gray sky gracefully surrendering to night.

“Ivy” by the High Highs now plays. I feel like I am floating on a cloud. Wrapped in a bed of silk and light cotton mist.

Again my body disintegrates.

I am a rock thrown in a pond. Transforming into ripples that spreads upon impact, then slowly and effortlessly smoothes into still waters.

We are the same.

In one week I am met with change. With setting my wedding date. Officially entering the adoption system to welcome our future child. Laughing in the car with Chris and his family over poop jokes.

I look at my partner who sits next to me in flight once again. He writes intently in his notebook, illuminated by a copper glow from above. We are carving our place. Our microscopic niche in this world. Setting in motion what will ultimately affect so much, as so much has ultimately affected us.

The sun is almost completely swallowed by night. Black clouds engulf a sea of tiny orange lights from the city below as we hover over our home.

“Dark Horse” by Tamer Animals plays like an epic soundtrack to what I can only guess is the beginning of a new story. I feel the wheels lower as the plane descends. Chris turns off the overhead light and puts his hand on my leg. I look over at him and he smiles at me.

Sky meets earth.
We land.

Thanks for reading