Going to Alaska

At this point in my life, arriving at an airport is uncannily like coming home. I know how airports work. There is a great comfort in the order and systems of organized chaos that make up the interlocking terminals. There are procedures to follow and you always know what you’re doing an where you’re going. Check in, security, laptop out -shoes off- pockets empty-feet apart-hands up, gate, plane. 

Airports also have a very unique energy about them. People are constantly traveling through their walls, saying hello and goodbye, crying from joy and sorrow, teeming with excitement or anxiety. Sitting in the sunlight slanting through the tall windows of terminal A5 is like attending your own personal parade of travelers, as airports certainly contain some of the best people watching opportunities to be found. 

I have been on many wonderful flights, but this flight was one of the most wonderful of them all. 

It started as a dull green flicker above the horizon, something I could almost mistake for the remnants of sunset on cloud, but as I watched, face pressed against the window, the flicker began to grow. Vague tendrils of green spread waveringly across the sky, and there it was in front of me. The aurora borealis. Hundred mile curtains of light pulsed across my entire field of view, not extraordinarily brilliant or defined, but clear enough for me to put pictures to all the stories of the aurora that I had clung to since I was a child. Suddenly I was five years old again and listening to the Golden Compass, mesmerized by the descriptions of dancing curtains of light, the dramatic and mysterious spirits of the far north. And here they were! And the curtains of light really were DANCING, moving like underwater tendrils, slow and sinuous and deeply enchanting.