Above a carpet of delicate clouds

Above a carpet of delicate clouds, we fly toward Sacramento, California. The are no mountains, no buildings, no houses, no cars, no roads, just condensed air, a sea of white below a fainted touch of baby blue and velvet sky.
Maman reads The Great Gatsby as Baba naps right next to her by the tiny window. Mamanbozorg reads with what little she can decipher from a grade level Farsi education. And R sleeps or struggles to, her arms folded uncomfortably across her chest. I’m looking out my window to what I believe are mountains. The strangers whom I’ve only met briefly as I forced my way to an empty seat are, like us, making time pass.
Time. It goes by slowly on this sky journey. Too slowly up above landscapes and mountains. Down below it’s much faster, so fast you don’t learn how things happen, how you change from one thing to another, how you grow old and childhood becomes a distant memory. Time. It’s a scary thing down there. But here time freezes; you are frozen in time. You decide. You float with the rest if you choose. You daydream about things you’ll do differently when you go back down. You wonder why there are dead-ends and stop signs when up here the sky is literally your limit…
Turbulence. Like the turbulence of thought. The sudden jolts and jerks disturb my line of words.
Half of the mountains are sunny. This is California. This is Hollywood. Fame. Big dreams. This is what they call The Land of Opportunities. It’s real land, real sand and stone, vast and open. Open for anything, for anyone, for dreamers, for tourists, for the lost.
Mamanbozorg is getting impatient. She was planning to take a walk. I told her no, grandma, you can’t do that here; the flight attendants need to move about. She tries to talk to them, patting their arms, asking for water in Farsi. We apologize to them and tell grandma we’ll tell them what she needs. In the end, they bring her water, and she says thank you, her most used English word. She is lost. More lost than the rest of us.
Looking at the brown masses of land is no longer interesting. R is adjusting herself; she is still not fully asleep. It’s Emilie Simon again who sings French into my ears. We are traveling in time. Slowly moving forward to yet another period. And I know by now that you just make the best out of what comes out of time. You move with it, willingly, because it makes things much easier.
Cloudless. The clouds have all disappeared now as we head closer to land. And I no longer feel like I can float or be lost with time or not give a damn. I have filled my stomach with nuts and dried cranberries, crackers and cheese, two cups of coffee, ending them all with a hot cup of tea. I have been hungry all day long as if everything I ate went straight through the sky. But my stomach is not as empty as my head is right now. Empty like pages of an unused notebook that has turned yellow from the passage of time. Empty like the book I have not written. Empty like a bottle of Vodka after a party. Or like the Marlboro pack that I found on a bench once.
Repetition is tricky in writing. You don’t want to overdo a weak sentence or word. Repetition is good when it’s strong, when it’s worth being redundant. If I keep telling you repetition is good in some cases and not in others, I’m overdoing the message and you’ll get bored.
But if I stress the word empty and follow my thoughts with it, then it might become of some interest. It’ll make you think that okay, this person feels pretty damn empty, figuratively, literally empty.
Mamanbozorg has peeled an orange to make time pass. I notice the layers of pinkish red and blue, as we are no longer above clouds. Sort of like the layers of my tank. Every journey has its layers of good and bad, of happy and sad. Every layer is…
And we are here. Finally. Welcome to Sacramento, the deadest city I’ve ever set foot on.

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