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I Am On A Plane To Sweden

———-Compiled from fragments in my journal, 7/8 December 2007:

I am on a plane to Sweden. No, technically I am on a plane to Amsterdam after a plane to Detroit after leaving Columbus, Ohio. When I land at Schiphol I’ll then be on another plane to Copenhagen, Denmark and after that I’ll be on a train to Sweden. That’s the plan anyway.
I’ll start over: I am on my way to Sweden and on my way to see Lena nearly five years after she boarded a bus in Copan and left me in Honduras. Am I a fool?, I ask myself. Perhaps, but this is a trip I’ve imagined, wanted to make, ever since that bus pulled away.

1430 — I had a surreal moment at the airport waiting for my first plane to leave. Over the last six years I have flown nowhere but Central America. I zoned out for a while, feeling the other travelers around me, smelling the airport smells. I looked out the big windows at the planes on the tarmac under the cold winter light and for a moment thought I was on my way to Honduras. In a brief hallucination I could smell the airport in San Pedro Sula where I would be landing. Already hungry I began salivating at the thought of the baleadas I would soon eat. That in six hours or less I’d be stepping into the heat and chaos and whirl of that world and soon would see volcanoes. I jerked myself back to reality. In six hours I’ll be barely over the Atlantic.

1510 — I loathe these tiny commuter jets. I loathe takeoff and landing. The pilot jigs the aircraft into the sky quick and hard and four minutes later we are above the clouds. At takeoff I figure the thing will crash just off the runway, or soon after, and we’ll splatter into the suburbs ruining a lot of people’s day. Landing is even worse because of the cosmic teasing you get by almost making it. My body and soul fill with love and joy when my planes taxi slowly to their gates.

1745 — taxiing towards the runway right on time. It is full dark outside and the day is strange and truncated. I got up at 0730, showered and Dad picked me up at 1100. It was snowing again as we left Wooster. Soon the sky cleared and it was a good drive to the airport. Now night has fallen and it was just this morning that I stood on my porch drinking coffee and waiting for my father to pick me up in his green Saab, thinking, “This is it. I’m actually going to Sweden to see Lena and I’m leaving in just a little while….”
To the West there is still the faintest light in the sky but to the East it is dark. The engines rev up at three minutes to 1800 and we begin down the runway, faster and faster until, there, we slip the surly bonds of earth and are away. If I had flown to Guatemala today I would already be at Mono Loco.

2420 (0620 Holland time) – Landing in half an hour. Tired. It’s my bedtime. Is this all madness?

O725 SCHIPOL INTL., AMSTERDAM – The people look, well, so darn European. You can smoke almost anywhere. I decided to have an espresso and realized I had no Euros (never have had any, this is my first time to Europe in 15 years). I saw an exchange kiosk and had a moment of trepidation thinking of how long it takes to change money at Banco de Occidente in Santa Rosa then realized it was quite a different banko. I went to the window and the transaction was over in 20 seconds with a thank-you in English. The coffee is good and a Babel of languages surrounds me. Some stylish girls are at the next long stainless steel and black vinyl table smoking cigarettes and drinking snifters of brandy. Did I say it was seven-thirty in the morning? Who knows where they’ve been though.

0900 – A long walk and a new boarding pass. Plane begins boarding soon. Day is breaking a European color of grey I haven’t seen in a long time. Raining. The color of travel.
If I said I wasn’t nervous I’d be lying. It has been almost five years since I’ve seen Lena and two weeks here in Sweden will be almost half as long as we knew each other to begin with. Just a Central American fling? But, no, I have never stopped wanting to see her and since she invited me to come it must be the same with her. In the end this is the only thing we can do. I said in an e-mail, not long ago, that I was a fool for not doing this before. She replied, “We were both fools.” Of course we might not have been ready before. Of course who knows if we’re ready now or even what ready is. Be that as it may I’ll be seeing her in a few hours. Now that it’s almost real I have no idea what to expect. What I hope is that we fall into each other’s arms and in love forever.
It is raining hard, straight down and steady. I have a large amount of strong coffee in my belly. I felt tired but am now wide awake. Denmark, Sweden, Lena here I come.

0943 – On board the plane to Denmark, seat 07A. A window seat, sort of, more in between windows really. I may be writing inane garbage but I want to write and record a lot, keep writing, not slack off on it as I am sometimes prone to do.
I wonder what she is thinking? Where is she? Is she on a train right now to meet me? How will we look at each other, to each other, after five years, on the other side of the world, on her home turf? Rain drips down the window like tears on a clear cheek.
1008 – Lining up… powering up, rising roar, slow-motion forward gaining momentum. We pull onto the runway and the turbines begin to scream, pushed back in the seat, faster and faster and faster gaining and lifting, airborne and wheels up. It is so flat down there, grey-green Kansas-flat with lots of water.
1010 – And the ground disappears into mist.

1105 – On the ground in Copenhagen. Lena is out there somewhere beyond passport control.

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