Today is Valentine’s Day, 2008. Instead of spending this charming heart-felt holiday with my family, I’ve chosen to spend it waiting on the tarmac of flight #1267 in Columbus Ohio en route to The Netherlands. As I gaze out of the window of the plane watching a hectic scene; the Oompa Loompa-like workers in their bright orange vests bustle to get us air bound, it suddenly occurs to me that this is my Geraldine Paige moment, my “Trip To Bountiful”. I’m on my way to where it all began; where my parents first met as they fell in love dancing together, where I was born, where my brother and I visited off and on throughout our childhood and where I fell in love and married the first time in my 20’s. Now at the age of 42, some 14 years later, I sit here prepared for departure traveling back to my native Holland. My former husband, whom I haven’t seen in 17 years, will pick me up at the Dutch airport. It is also not of small significance that my estranged mother lives in the land of windmills.
For some reason, whenever I fly, I feel closer to my father. I suppose there’s a sense that this might be the nearest I can come to where he might now hover. After all the many years of his not being here, there are still these monumental moments when I feel at the mercy of some sorrow and invariably unload. In the air, I look out at the quiet splendor of the majestically voluptuous clouds and feel him in my present piece of heaven. I then ask myself why is it that at this age, after all this time of healing, I sill come unglued? I berate myself for the momentary weakness but with a bit of sudden turbulence I am brought back to the here and now. Although my initial reason for this travel was for a simple overdue vacation to a country near and dear to my heart but haven’t returned to it in some time, I realize it is fast becoming more than that. Sitting here in the belly of this vessel I realize I am struggling with much. It all comes bubbling up. At this present place in my life I am questioning so much about where I came from, who I am and where I’m going? Is this a prelude to my mid-life crisis as I sit here at 30,000 ft., a seat away from a young woman who is hacking away and clearly not feeling her best? I realize I have absolutely no idea what to expect.
As the wash of blue now coalesce into a palette of reds, oranges, and yellows in a sunset sky far above my smaller worlds, I am given grace to float away and think about much. My reverie slides into remembering the cast of characters who have played the important roles in my life: my mother, my father, my brother, Chip, Chi-Chi and a select few others. They visit me with laughter and sadness as I try to put the pieces all together in my head. In what way have all these souls, with their loads vital and great, rubbed off in making me who I am at this present moment? I decide then and there, with an almost suffocating desperation, to figure it out before I land where I was born; armed with renewed insight and neatness of all that has been chaos in my life.
The burning sky beckons an inner excavation, a rewind, and I travel back in time in my mind. As usual the comforting voice of my father comes to mind…