I was six when I boarded my first flight. Now, I am widely known in my circles for my pathetic memory. However, that bright day in the summer of 1990 is ingrained in my memory forever. What I vividly remember is not my enthusiasm, or what I felt when I saw the inside of the plane, or what I thought of the games I was given to play with. What I remember most is my expectation from my journey; and my preparation for my expectation. The day before the D-day, I pestered my grandmother for a tight plastic box. The kind of box that she packed my sister’s curd rice in, the box she insisted wont leak. “What do you need it for?” “I can’t tell you, it’s a secret”. I could feel the excitement in my little fingers as I packed this in my clock backpack. My pink backpack with a big round clock on its front. The bag that made the “old” girls in the 7th grade stalk me outside my classroom, swoon over me, pick me up, pinch my cheeks and say rather scarily “She is soooooo cute, her bag is sooooo cute”. As my mother anxiously triple checked our passports, I anxiously triple checked that I had packed my box well.
As I reached the airport, I could hear my heart beat faster. The rest is a bit of a haze. Next thing I remember is the nice airhostess guiding me to my window seat. Window!! I always loved sitting at the window. I was thrilled, but only for a minute. My excitement was brought down by a notch when I noticed that the windows were smaller than my Fiat’s window. “How can this be?” I thought. “So much bigger than my car, but such small windows??”. I asked my next question aloud. “Where is that handle that I can turn to lower the windows?”. The air hostess gave me a smile and said as nicely as possible – words that brought all my excitement down – “You cannot lower that window, darling”. I looked at my mother with big disappointed eyes – “Really??!!”. Downcast, I thought to myself “Now, how will I fill my box with all those clouds that I planned on collecting?”
Today, as I fly over the clouds and watch them succumb to the seductive moonlight, I think to myself – have I changed much? Do I still have unreal expectations, and spend a good deal of time packing my box in my backpack? As a child, my goals were clear and my ambitions simple. Now I wonder, do I even have count of the number of boxes I pack? And really – do I even know when I pack these boxes, and what the box is for?
Never mind, I guess the real fun is in packing anyway.