Flugzeug = Airplane

When I was younger, we went to the airport to pick up or drop off my aunts when they came to visit. They came from New York, from California, and from Germany. As I got older, every time we drove past I would start listing places I wanted to go. To California a second time, to New York City, to Nova Scotia, to Europe. The billboard advertising unbelievably cheap flights with Spirit Airlines would contribute to fantasies where my friends and I went on spur-of-the-moment trips.

As time went on, making an escape became more desirable: I would buy a one-way ticket and never come home. But every time I was at the airport, it was to drop off or pick up someone else. After I'd bought my ticket for the trip to Munich in February, every time I passed the airport, it was with the satisfaction that next time, I would finally be the one leaving.

I have another ticket to Munich for August, but no return date set. Now, every time I go past the airport I get nervous. When I drive between Ann Arbor and Grosse Pointe by myself, I try to think of which landmark comes next to make the drive feel faster. After I pass Ypsilanti and the Willow Run Airport exit, the next one is the Detroit Metro Airport, which is a relatively long stretch of no landmarks, a relatively long time spent anticipating the airport. Before you can actually see it, you can see planes coming in or flying out. Last Friday one flew right over my car and its shadow covered the expressway for a few seconds, which was cool.

The last few months, airplanes have equaled anxiety for me. I've forgotten that they're actually exciting. You walk through that tunnel from the terminal to the cabin, find your seat, and sit for a really long time. When you get out, somehow you're in a completely different place. Plus you're FLYING. When my family went to California we flew over the Grand Canyon, which is the closest I've been to it so far. Our seats weren't on the right side of the plane, but we went to the other side to look out at it and it was breathtaking, even at such a distance. As we descended into Las Vegas, I was fascinated by the number of pools and golf courses, surrounded by desert.

On the way to Munich, I had a window seat. When it was dark and boring but I wasn't tired enough to sleep yet, I looked out the window at the twinkly lights from cities and just happened to be watching at the perfect time. I saw the way the city lights were clustering along a curve, how past that line there was suddenly total darkness, and I wondered if we were starting the trip across the Atlantic.

When I finally got the map screen to show up, I saw that we had just crossed over New Brunswick to the ocean. I was delighted that I'd deciphered it correctly and tried to take pictures out the window so I could show everyone I knew. They were too blurry to show the shoreline in the dark, but just remembering it now makes me excited about airplanes all over again—even if spending ten hours in one cramped seat is a pain in the ass (ha ha ha).

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