Late at night somewhere over the Hudson Bay aboard Air France flight 045, an Airbus A-330 à destination de Paris. We’re cruising at flight level 370 on our northeastern course. The outside air temperature is a chilly -60°C. To the south, the cold stars of Orion are perfectly framed into my starboard window. We will overfly the southern tip of Greenland in a few hours, on a great circle route between the two continents.
I’ve stretched my legs comfortably and reclined my seat, selfishly blissful about that exit row seat I snatched at the last second. The French cabin crew is very nice and dinner was opened with no less than Champagne. With 12 video channels, French music, travel magazines, a paragliding book and my iPod, I’ve got all I need to survive the flight and I’ve settled in for the long haul, 9 hours from Vancouver to Paris.
French accents all around me have left me nostalgic and dreaming. Even if only for a brief touch and go, there is no doubt about it, I’m going home. My old home first, and then a new one, one not defined by physical boundaries but rather by feelings. I am, litterally, on a date with destiny.
Un hommage aux p’tits cousins du Québec, the inflight radio plays “Le monde est stone” de Fabienne Thibault. The time machine kicks in automatically and I am pulled back all the way to the 70’s. Tough ones, these years, qu’est-ce que j’en ai arraché. But today, in the middle of the sky and riding the maelstrom, l think I understand. It would seem that bleeding first is often necessary in order to shine later. And most of all it takes time to actually realise that, just as right now, 20 cm from my face, pure frozen hell is flying by just below the speed of sound at such a low pressure that it would render me unconscious in under a minute, the difference between chaos and bliss is often as thin as the glass keeping me safe inside the cabin. And always, unavoidebly, that difference hides within our head.
[Posted at 3:00 am from the Johannesburg terminal, South Africa, having slept a total of 7 hours in the last 55.]