Tuesday, February 24, 2015

happy contrails to you

This trip north is almost over.  But last night will be one of those evenings I will store away in the journal that is shelved between my ears.

My mother invited me to dinner.  She lives about a mile away from my brother's house, where I have been staying.

Because I do not get much exercise on my trips north, I almost always walk over to her place.  I have mentioned before one reason I continue to write these essays is the impetus to look for The Story as it happens around me.

Last night was one of those walks.

The weather in Bend has been sunny and clear.  That makes the evenings a bit crisp.  Crisp enough for this guy that he even felt a bit cold.  That was understandable when I heard the weatherman report the low was headed toward 15.

The combination of the cool, dry air and the clear sky was a perfect background for one of my favorite sights.  Contrails.

Richard Nixon may have had a dream: "I see another child tonight.  He hears the train go by at night and he dreams of far away places where he'd like to go."  For me, it was airplanes. 

When I was a child we would drive out to the airport to watch the planes come and go.  I knew that I would one day be on one of those planes.  Going somewhere.  Anywhere.  But going.

I cannot see contrails now without thinking of the dreams of the people who were in the airplane that left that trail of water vapor in the cold evening sky.  Are they on their way to some far-away place with hemorrhaging sunsets?  Or are they ready to be back home?

Of course, asking those questions of a contrail is worse than talking to oneself.  Focusing on the contrail is like focusing on memories.  The adventure is already miles away as we stand looking at the sky.

But maybe that's the point.  By focusing on the motion of the airplane, we often ignore what we leave in our wake.  A mother standing in 1944 London looking at a V-2 contrail may have a far different take than an overly-sentimental pensioner standing in the middle of a Bend housing development trying to make some sense out of a confusing world.

The world does make sense, though.  I had a very nice dinner with my mother reminiscing over tales and discussing her intentions concerning a move to Mexico.
Last night, J.K. Simmons, upon winning the Oscar for best supporting actor, admonished the audience to
"call your mom.  If you're lucky enough to have parents or two alive on this planet, don't text, don't email.  Call them on the phone tell them you love them.  Talk to them for as long as they want to hear you."

It was the best advice I heard during the entire show.

He was correct.  Those of us who are still lucky enough to have a parent living need to take full advantage of each opportunity to say: "I love you."  And: "Tell me more."

I do not do it often enough.  Mom, I love you.

Without her, I would never have learned to look into the sky to watch the contrails and to dream that one day I too would be living my adventure.

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