Coming home (with photos of the C&O Canal)
Sunday October 21st 2007, 1:30 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

C&O Canal at Swain’s Lock

I had been knitting in the airport and then the plane for nearly ten hours straight, with a few breaks for Southwest Airline snacks and drinks; I had all these new yarns to play with, and I wanted this older one finished with. The only way to make that happen was to sit down and do it, so I was resisting the call of the Brooks Hansen novel and just kept on endlessly going.

But somewhere over Nevada or so I needed to stop and my hands needed icing. I knitted a few more 385-stitch rows while considering that, and then it dawned on me: I asked for some ice water. I drank the water and then spent the last half hour of the flight holding that small airline cup against my hands and wrists. Note that the bottom of those are thinner and less insulated than the sides and therefore more helpful, should you ever need to know that.

I turned off the overhead light as I was icing, taking in the California lights that were just beginning to glow beneath us and that grew more frequent and intense as we approached the Bay Area. Brilliant white and orange jewels inlaid along the obsidian of the night Bay, and I was guessing–Stockton? Walnut Creek, over there? I was wishing I could place where we were.

I had that feeling suddenly of being watched, and glanced up to see the fellow to my left as we sat in the bulkhead seats, who’d been looking intensely out his own window across the aisle. He glanced quickly away; I think he’d just been trying to see the lights on my side, too, to compare.

I glanced back a few minutes later, and it struck me how much change there is in travelling: you leave one place and one set of faces and experiences completely behind you physically, and substitute another set for it in your life. I wondered if he was coming home or leaving it, and his fingers began to rapidly drum the bottom of his windowframe: playing music? Writing email, subconsciously? Was he reaching out to those behind, or those coming, in his thoughts? It felt so utterly human and alive as he sat there hunched down, seeing out that small bit of glass so intensely as if he could will his destination to hurry up. The small child in me inwardly whined the classic, “Are we almost there?” and I laughed at myself for it.Canal barge at Great Falls

A moment later, I saw him stroking one long set of fingers with the other, then again, switching sides, as if some part of his mind had realized that it had put his thoughts out on too-open display, if anyone could but read the workings of his hands, and that he needed to erase the typings to regain his privacy. I’m sure he had no idea he was even stroking them.  His mind seemed far from the inside of that plane.
Street lights, and as we descended some more, those of individual homes. Clearer and clearer rushing at us, each place with its own stories.

And I silently wished him well as he returned to his own, wherever that might be.C&O Canal at Great Falls

5 Comments so far
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Most people wouldn’t even notice the person next to them. Thanks for wishing him well. Glad you were able to ice your hands. I don’t think I have ever knit for 10 hours straight. Finally, welcome home! After the excitement of a journey and all of the new things, I love that wonderful feeling of returning to the comfort of home.

Comment by vicki 10.21.07 @ 2:39 pm

Love your photos of the C & O canal! Neat how you capture the stories around you. Your observations of others and then being able to write about them – is a great gift…
Was wonderful to see you, Richard and Karen. Let’s not wait 30 more years for another visit!



Comment by Bev 10.21.07 @ 4:04 pm

I always think that is one of the most thrilling parts of travelling. You start off in one place, and with one set of feelings, and end up in a completely different place both physically and mentally. It’s so cool.

Comment by Amanda 10.21.07 @ 6:33 pm

Your comments on coming into the Bay area reminded me of my first flight into California.
I remember flying over the Sierra Nevada mountains and thinking about the people who crossed them in covered wagons. I had no idea of what “wilderness” really meant until then. Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Judy 10.22.07 @ 9:16 am

I’ve done the same thing. Once was on my way home from school. Wished the man across the aisle from me well wherever he might be headed, whatever he might be doing. I remember he was wearing a very nice suit, but had the most fantastic green-rimmed glasses, and a shiny shaved head.

Glad you had a good trip home! 🙂

Comment by Amy 10.22.07 @ 11:27 am

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