It’s a pretty big bag, I said to myself. It’s a heck of a big bag. I sat comfortably in my leather chair, coffee at hand, mentally gaging the size of my luggage and imagining logging it all halfway across the globe. A suitcase, conventionally sized, and a B.A.G., as in Bloody Awfully Gargantuan.
That, mind you, was no ordinary bag. It contained, neatly folded and already asleep for way too long, my wings. And there as always lay the rub. Wings are not small. They grant you freedom but never let you forget that freedom tires biceps and abuses luggage allowance charts.
I tried to reason with my muscles. It’s quite a miracle that in such a modestly huge bag fits all I need to autonomously get myself airborne and remain so for hours. My right bicep twitched. 30 square meters of fabric, a 12 meter wing span, and only 6.5 kilos. A bargain. My back muscles pretended to spasm: what about the harness, eh? And the reserve, and the helmet? Sure, the harness was responsible for most of the weight and volume. But this was no mountain gear. My Firebird harness is quite comfortable and come to think of it, I’d be sitting in it pretty much the same way I was lying in my leather chair.
I instinctively crossed my legs to minimize aerodynamic drag, patted the right side underneath the armrest where the reserve parachute would be packed, then raised my hands in mid-air and grabbed a hold of the brakes, pulling gently on them until I could feel the glider intimately and achieve maximum finesse. I was gliding smoothly through the still air of my living room at 30 or 35 km/h, scanning the space around me, my inner eye looking hungrily for paraglider food, a bubble of warm air rising through the champagne of my flight…
There was never really before a doubt about bringing the paraglider with me anywhere. It’s just become a ritual; I go through the motions, hesitate for the form, and then close the bag, tag it, and go. I’ve never regretted it, even when a weather system turned nightmare prevented flying for an entire trip.
Flying has always been for me a solo affair. I used to plan my days around it, and my nights around my days. It was all about flying, the rest being secondary and barely tolerated. I walked around looking at the sky and thinking like a bird. I never had a second thought about it.
This time, however, will be different. Flying will have lost its priority and been transcended by something even more powerful. It will have to be kept checked, controlled and temporary. It will have to wait. I wonder if I will feel different, airborne, knowing that among the eyes trained on the blue and white speck of my wing far up in the South African sky, a pair of green diamonds is actually waiting for me to circle down and come back to the land of legged creatures, and that of our common dreams.
There is only one way to find out. The bag is closed. Tagged. Ready. Just so bloody big.