Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Microstory 877: Man Planes, God Laughs

When I was seventeen years old, I found myself at a farm party. I don’t really know how I ended up there, because parties aren’t my scene, but I must have known someone who knew someone. Since we were coming from pretty far away, we arrived really early. Some guy there owned a plane that, I guess he used for spreading seed, or something? He spontaneously offered to take anyone up who wanted it. For some reason, I was the only one who did. The plane was small, and partially opened, so I could feel the rush of wind pass us as we soared through the air. I had flown in a lot of planes by then, some of which were rather small, but this was the most exhilarating experience of my life. I’ve always been afraid of heights and roller coasters, so I have no idea what possessed me to agree to this, but I fell in love that day. I held that with me for years as I moved on with my life. And that life was quite a struggle. I’m an artist by trade, but there’s little money in that if you’re still alive, so I became a barber. Most people don’t suddenly decide to get into the hairstyling business, but I had heard it was one of the least stressful jobs out there, and I just needed something to get me by that wasn’t shoveling french fries. I had all but forgotten my dream of becoming a pilot, but every once in awhile, I’d see a small aircraft, and I would be reminded. And so with nothing else interesting to do with my money, I decided to start setting a little to the side to actually make my dream a reality. It might have taken me longer than the average student, but I did eventually earn my license. That was great, but I still didn’t have a plane. I could keep flying if I became an instructor too, but there weren’t any open positions at the moment, so I spent the next few months just sitting on my license. Then my parents showed up to my apartment one day with a surprise. They made sure I was sitting down, then dad took out the little portable projector he would use for work. The image of an airplane appeared on my wall, with my parents claiming that it was mine. Unfortunately, it was in Mexico, because that was where they could find the best deal, but fortunately, that meant a nice family trip to Mexico.

We all went down together, and it was like falling in love all over again. She was a 1972 Delgado Crescendo; single-engine turboprop; just a hair over 500 miles on her engine; and exactly as many seats as we needed. She was perfect, she was everything. My sister joked that she wouldn’t let me fly it until she got to try it first. Overall it was a great little vacation, with the best gift I could have ever gotten. We were halfway home when my mother discovered that we had all left our passports in the hotel, and so we had to fly all the way back. I was going to miss work for another day, but I wasn’t worried. Not so shockingly, the hotel hadn’t seen our passports at all, but had probably stolen them, no doubt. Due to some weird political maneuvering going on in our government at the time, we wouldn’t be issued any emergency passports, and were going to have to wait for up to a week to return home. Like I said, that was fine with me; I had everything I ever needed, but the three of them had important jobs to get back to—that they would lose if they didn’t. We made the decision to sneak back over the border, which was very easy when you had your own private plane. It wasn’t at all legal, but I got us home safely, securely, and secretly. I knew where we could land where we didn’t have to go through customs. Of course, that meant when our new passports finally did come in, they would be sent to the address we gave the embassy in Mexico. My boss told me I would be fired if I didn’t get back to work right away, but this was more important. I took one last trip over that border, picked up the passports, mailed them to my family, and then I just kept flying. I haven’t been back to the United States since.

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