The descent was rougher than the takeoff but no less stunning. I had never been to Georgia before, and I was shocked by its lushness. Beyond the window was nothing but trees that stretched and stretched right up to the border of the city that was so clearly Atlanta; a concrete oasis in the middle of all that green. The only thing that brought me back to the crowded plane was the terrifying feeling of weightlessness that comes with falling.
With the plane at the gate and my six minutes of standstill waiting at an end, there was nothing but signs and my legs to take me to the next part of my trip. I walked with a determination and an urgency I’ve rarely experienced before. My heart was pounding within seconds; my blood made my legs tingle and spark within minutes.
Navigating my way through a new and sprawling place was easier than my anxieties made it out to be. All I needed was basic reading comprehension. By sheer willpower, I was in my first-choice train with my bag as a makeshift foot rest two minutes before it was set to depart. I felt empowered and confident and competent. I had never traveled on my own before, and here I was catching planes and trains and, soon enough, a bus.
The twenty minutes in the train were spent looking out the windows and thinking about how much a short trip has impacted me. Every now and then, I’d glance around at all the different passengers and see them come and go with a look of bored familiarity on their faces.
At my stop, I made my way outside and perched on a concrete ledge to wait for my bus. I made a fleeting friend from Tulsa whose name I never learned. When we finally boarded the bus, he sat diagonally from me but didn’t bother to pick up the conversation again. I liked it that way. I didn’t want to miss two hours of looking outside a giant tinted window. But they flew right by. Before I knew it, the bus was parked, my bag was in my hand, and I was waiting in the spring sun for my friend to pick me up.
The drive to her quaint home with the backyard woods was spent talking about the mutual person we know, mumbling dry jokes, and talking to kind strangers at Trader Joe’s.
At one point, she was on the phone with her husband, and it didn’t take me long to realize that their relationship was as green as the landscape. Two kids, two dogs, and a cat later, they’re still calling each other babe and ending their phone calls with I love you.
We should all be so lucky.