« I Got One in the Hole! | Main | It's Beginning to Sink In »

Flying Above the Clouds

I'm sitting in a commuter jet this morning, getting ready to land at O'Hare to make my connecting flight to London. It's early still and the sun is just inching up over the horizon, blood orange fingers reaching up to grab the edge of the clouds to the east, preparing for one long, slow chin up into daylight.

Below me is a sea of clouds, as far as I can see, nothing but a gray lumpy mattress of thick vapor, moving ever so slowly. The sky above is clear, but I know the weather on the ground is miserable ... just like the foggy rain I left behind in Cincinnati. I think I see a few scattered stars, but they're just other planes rising from, descending to, or circling around the greater Chicago area.

It seems so peaceful, like a morning boat ride out to a distant dive site. I can see no land, just a few other boats in the distance, going to a reef I'll see tomorrow or one I visited yesterday.

As we slowly make our way into the ocean of cloud cover, I prepare for a jolt of turbulence, but there is none, just an easy glide into the fog ... where we seem to hang forever. I expect to see coral, or fish, or perhaps a merman, but nothing ... nothing above or below for what seems like minutes. How thick can this division between clear pre-dawn sky and cold Chicago morning be?

And then there are wisps of light underneath me. The mist begins to break, and the toy city appears, miniature cars appear on glistening streets, empty parking lots await the matchbox cars to fill them.

I'm landing in a city that used to be home. I've just come from a city that was home, and still is. And in a few minutes, I'll board another plane to take me back into the ocean of clouds, across a real ocean ... to a city that will be home.

Home. Maybe it's not a place or a city. Maybe it's a place inside of us, full of memories and warmth, full of friends and family and feelings, full of the non-tangibles that we try so hard to hold on to.

Or maybe it's just where we get our mail.