Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 27

play my part. I nod and smile politely,
knowing some faces, pretending to
recognize others, and exchange the
customary teeth extracting niceties: "How are you? How is school,
class, life? What have you been up to
this summer?" I know everyone sees
them. Their glances aren't as stolen
as they think. But the topic remains
as untouched as the warm, flat soda
that I nurse in my hands.
Being young and sick is an oxymoron. One that makes the subject
near impossible to handle, let alone
discuss, at a party without having firsthand experience. Young is
supposed to be careless; sick is not.
Young is supposed to be invincible;
sick is not. Young is supposed to be
riding at what feels like 100 miles
per hour down a steep slope on a
skateboard, crashing, rolling far off
into the street, and laughing at how
very stupid, and fun, and stupid that
all was. But I cannot.

The music finally drowns out these
conversations (or lack-there-of), and
people start to dance. I, however,
retreat to the periphery for fear of
injuring, or worse, embarrassing
myself, and I feel tired, old and
angry. It's been five years and I want
out. Out of CT scans, and echocardiograms, and blood panels and

x-rays. Of leaky livers, and weakened heart muscles, and failing
kidneys and brittle bones. Just out,
out. Up, up and away.
But here I am, stuck in place and
held together by titanium rods, Tylenol and stubborn pride. That's what
I'm supposed to have: these years of
relatively pain free ignorance. That
experience of being young together,
and then growing old together. So
that when our joints begin to rot,
and our skin crumples like wet paper, we'll be able to say, "I've had my
fun, and now is my time."

Honestly, I am so, so afraid. Afraid of
pressing the wrong button, of turning off the engine in mid-flight, of
unpredictable weather, of injuries,
and illness, and pain, of spending the
rest of my life resenting what I could
not do and pining for what I could
have been.
Perhaps that's what made me want
to spend my days chasing altitudes.
Because I can. I know it requires
countless f light hours, a practical
and theoretical exam, extensive
knowledge of engine and instrument function and proficiency in
aeronautic lingo; not to mention a
healthy dose of hubris to think that
Little Old You could hold on to the
controls when the wind blows a bit

too far south, and the turbulence
sends your heart plummeting to the
ground below.
And yet, as I sit in a chair, watching people dance, I feel my hands
going through the motions: landinglight, fuel-pump, carb-heat, throttle.
I am back up there, waltzing with
the stars. Reveling in the swashbuckling joy of learning something
that few people have ever dared try.
Just watch me. It's in the click of a
switch flip between my fingers, my
body reverberating with the power
of the engine, and bathing in the
smell of kerosene flowing into open
air. That is where I feel a little braver
and a little less broken- because if
these feet aren't made for dancing,
I'll have to settle for flying.

It's the second time I take off and my
heart pinballs into my throat, ears
filling with pressured cotton balls
as I watch the needle of the altimeter steadily rise. 1,525, 1,897, 2,285,
2,625, 3,000. "You can level off now,"
says my instructor, and I finally look
outside.
The world cracks open like an egg.
Sun spilling runny yoke over the topography of the California I grew up
in. But far more magnificent. Purple
tree tufts wedged between little box
houses peek out through clouds that
marble the sky. Ant-sized cars snake
through freeway rivers, all unfolded
like the city is a dollhouse, and it's
mine to play with. But the ocean?
That looked to me greater than
ever - going on and on until the
water creeps upward and becomes
the sky. l
ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
JUNE 2020

27


http://www.elephantsandtea.com

Elephants And Tea - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants And Tea - June 2020

Contents
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Cover1
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Cover2
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 1
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Contents
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 3
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 4
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 5
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 6
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 7
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 8
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 9
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 10
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 11
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 12
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 13
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 14
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 15
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 16
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 17
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 18
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 19
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 20
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 21
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 22
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 23
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 24
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 25
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 26
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 27
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 28
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 29
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 30
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 31
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 32
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 33
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 34
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 35
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 36
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 37
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 38
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 39
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 40
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 41
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 42
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - 43
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Cover3
Elephants And Tea - June 2020 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com