Last week, I begrudgingly sat strapped in on a cross-country flight from San Diego to New York City. I know very few people who love the process of flying - assuming an I-surrender-position as the full-body-scan whirs around their torso, the seat assignments and mis-assignments, the valiant hunt for the right piece of luggage. Flying for SPDummies (trademark pending?) is even more of a process. Picture this: feeling ungrounded and detached most days. Needing to walk with a heavier gait just to give your body the sense of where it is in space. And now picture placing this weird, wonderful body in a winged vessel and sending it sailing into the clouds for hours. Don't forget the endless grinding sound of the engine, the shouts from toddlers a few rows back, the nosy row neighbor who wants many details about where you got your particular neck pillow, and the flight attendant who is just too attentive. Keep in mind the bathroom is the size of a postage stamp, and the toilet roars angrily - and seemingly suddenly - when flushed. And let's not forget the Fasten Seatbelt sign. Oh, and the time change.
I find a plane ride on a good day to be incredibly discombobulating. Last week, our plane out of San Diego was delayed, 15 minutes at a time, for nearly two hours. Pacing short lengths of the airport, flinging my arms and legs against any available wall, I was already impatient and uncomfortable before boarding the aircraft and contending with the tiny straws that typically break an SPDers proverbial back. I was thankful to be haunting a window seat, and was resigned to have patience with myself. We flew Jet Blue, and so next to my ever-loving husband I sat, determined to focus solely on the t.v. screen in my seat back while holding his hand. For hours we were motionless as we were escorted through the air. Instead of checking the time, I gauged the distance by the number of episodes of t.v. that passed. I was thankful for my weighted lap belt with a fuzzy tiger face - a random purchase made months ago from a local home store, but was too uncomfortable to unfurl myself from my seat and use my sensory tools to regulate. Instead, I continued to stare at the screen, striking up bargains with the gods to somehow get me home as quickly and as unscathed as possible.
About an hour outside of New York City, confident that I had made it most of the trip sensorily-safely, and moments after the sun slipped somewhere behind the Earth, I finally turned my eyes to take in a large sip of the endless sky outside my window. The land below was a rich, inky-blackness. As we flew over small cities - perhaps Philadelphia, maybe Baltimore - tiny orange lights, like volcanic pin pricks - turned the ground into a beautiful, pulsing light show. I caught my breath in surprise - I hadn't flown at night in a very long time, and I had forgotten the glow that emerged once the darkness had settled; the towns remarkable from the air solely for their visible lights. A not-so-subtle reminder to this SDPer that sometimes pushing sensory boundaries results in sensory delights.