I have flown for long stretches over the last six weeks. And flying - as a layman with absolutely no understanding of aeronautical engineering - requires a leap of faith for me. I think "how do it do this?" Relying, as I am, on a giant tin can to hurtle me above the earth at unfathomable speeds. Trusting, as I do, that it's ok to have the clouds under me, that the hard earth below will receive me gently - delivered by metal wings, guided by a man in a uniform, festooned with medals, about whom I know nothing.
Up in the air. When you are between destinations. When you rely on fate or luck or planning - or the convergence of all these and timing - to get you from where you are to where you will be. When the where you will be is indeterminate, or the path to it is unclear.
I trusted the planes, and I was delivered - to a job that ended, to a past career that warranted re-visiting. To home again, twice.
The plane landed and I am home, but I am still up there - a little ungrounded.
I don't know what comes next.
I closed a door, definitively. Four weeks later, I am returning home to job hunt. And learned, in the Salt Lake City Airport during the 45-minute layover, that my thumb drive that included my last invoice to that other job was destroyed. That all my writing samples from that other job were also irrevocably corrupted.
Six weeks elsewhere, and returning to motherhood and reality, I learned that the spreadsheet that defined how I am to distribute 55 boxes of Girl Scout cookies is also quite gone. And I have no idea what it said, because I was between places when I created it.
In the Salt Lake airport, I didn't quite cry. But tears sprung to my eyes and I talked myself down. Questioning, at once, my organizational skills both maternal and professional, I swiped my eyes, swallowed the growing lump, and embarked the plane.
I settled in, somehow, next to a race car driver. In his sixties, on his way to Jackson, Mississippi to race a car.
I have never talked with someone before, on a plane.
For five hours, the charming Brit and I looked at our separate lives through common interests, common sensibilities. David (his name, learned just before wheels touched down) is a farmer mechanic, as was my grandfather. A grower of things, a builder of race cars, a flyer of planes, a sailer of boats. He is a father, a grandfather. He is stationary, on his island - and he is the most mobile of mobiles - building and racing cars - having returned to this version of himself at 60 after a 30-year hiatus.
He told a story, my flight mate. Of a fisherman.
The fisherman is casting his line when he is approached by a banker.
"Why not hire some laborers to fish for you? You get a cut of what they bring in. The more you hire, the more you collect. Eventually, you won't have to do any of the work. They will do it for you. Money will roll in. You can retire. "
"But what would I do?," replied the fisherman, curious.
"Well, then you would have all the time in the world to spend at the beach. Fishing," replied the businessman.
"Ah. And how is that different from what I do... now..?"
For now, I will enjoy a little inflicted-upon-me leisure time. I will count my ducks, go on Spring Break, and enjoy my children without a corporate-mandated to do list hanging in the wings. I will look for work - and I will try to remember these past weeks - filled with some of what I love and some of what I loathe, some of what fits, and some of what doesn't. I will try to know something of what I want before I begin the chase.
I may even fish.