I have always loved tiny airports. I remember in Camrose, Alberta cutting class, influencing a friend or two to do so as well, and biking down to the airport. We’d roll between the hangars and speed down the empty runway, wishing the two wheels under us had wings attached like the little Cessnas parked nearby. We’d cast they bicycles aside and lay down at the very end of the runway and wait. Soon enough, a plane would speed toward us and we’d be left looking at the belly of the aircraft as the air lifted it higher and higher.
I remember the tiny airport in central Afghanistan where my family went for a motorcycle joyride. It was cold and windy and the dirt was ridged and frozen, but there was no chance of getting in the way of the aircraft that day. Planes would only come once or twice a week, if that, and it wasn’t plane day. Biting frosty air limited our time out there despite the layers and the scarf wound tightly around my head.
I can’t ride down the runway in El Monte, California—there’s no way between the hangars and I’d certainly be arrested if I tried. But a bike path winds it way along the concrete river by the fence, and I love to go out there and watch the planes take off. They meander to the end of the runway leisurely, like an old person taking a walk, and then turn, and in a few moments the cloak of sluggishness is thrown off and the planes accelerate down the runway and up into the atmosphere.
Something in me soars with them.