So here it goes. A post born at 20 thousand feet, which is about the recommended distance anyone should be from Reno, the place we just flew over. Not that I recognized it from the window. Some little animated plane on my phone let me know that I was traveling over “the biggest little city in the world.” And thank god no one has me in charge of direction. I get hopelessly lost in places I’ve been 100 times. Nearing my 3 month mark in Portland and I am not out of the woods as far as being completely lost on a daily basis. Or, for that matter, I’m not out of the woods for getting lost in the actual woods.
Therefore, I’m better off as a passenger. I like Iggy and Siouxsie, am a fabulous passenger. (La la la la la la) I show up on time, I sit down, I try to be nice other passengers and then I quietly fall asleep and drool on myself with the inflight magazine I just spent 20 minutes making fun of in my lap. I wake up for peanuts, pretzels and Satanically hot coffee and then fall back asleep. Like I said, I’m good at this.
I’m one of those weirdos that likes flying and I like it somewhat out of spite. After September 11th, it was chic for like over a decade to bitch about flying and airports. After 600,000 conversations about how much everything related to travel sucked, I stopped participating. The truth was I liked travel so if I had to stand in line with huffy middle aged men or try to slip off my shoes without falling on my face, then so be it. Im gonna love it just to piss you off. So there.
But I also like it because travel, especially for enjoyment, feels important. It feels like I’m participating in my life. It feels like I’m enjoying a world outside my cozy cat and coffee filled cocoon. Quiet simply, it feels fun. What placed me in the clouds and over Reno was precisely that. I spent a too-short 36 hours in Los Angeles with my family for my nephew’s birthday. He’s a great kid with fantastic grades and he was even the valedictorian of his class. All worth the 2+hour flight for sure. But that’s not the only reason I came.
This kid, who is now of voting age and whom we old people can rely on to fix our fuckups, is something more special than a great athlete or amazing student. He along with his two sisters and my sister’s two brilliant kids pretty much saved my life. In 2009 the year I got sober, this kid was 10. Smart, competitive and virtual one-liner factory, he and his sisters were a perfect antidote to the harrowing world of new sobriety. I babysat them a lot over that first year which is hilarious to say because they certainly took more care of me than I ever did of them. Most evenings consisted of epic games of UNO followed by even more epic debates about which movie we should watch flowed by snacks and more debates about going to bed. Under normal circumstances, these evenings would be special but not anything out of the ordinary. Yet when most of your days are spent crying and trying not to drink, these little babysitting moments carry more weight. The amount of joy that all of the kids in my life provided for me that first year feels profound and significant.
And that’s why I’m here, now 20 minutes away from Portland. I get to show up for them today. I can say, “I’ll be there” and actually be there–physically and mentally. Now only a few hundred feet above ground and minutes away from wheels squeaking on the tarmac, I feel really lucky. Lucky that I get to travel, lucky I survived my dance with drugs and alcohol and lucky that this kid helped me so much, even if he didn’t know it at the time.