I’m going to FLY!
Posted by Eternity
My grandfather, one of the most influential people in my life, began my life-long love of airplanes. We spent our summers together visiting air shows and fly-ins from Oak Harbor to the Arlington Fly-In and to the Abbotsford Airshow just north of my hometown. My father and I often sat at KBLI listening to Paul Harvey on the radio; eating McDonalds and watching the traffic take off and land – my favorite memories with my favorite people involve planes.
I’d been to more airshows than I could count, but I’d only been in a plane twice when I was 10, to fly to and from California, when I discovered that the Auburn Adventist Academy would get me away from the traumatic living situation I was in AND included high school classes to learn to fly that counted as school credit; I did EVERYTHING in my power to attend that school. I applied for, and won a scholarship to reduce the costs – but the remainder was still too much for my parents, and my mother refused to see me as anything other than personal property. I could do nothing I wanted to do on “her weeks” with me, including further my education.
After graduating high school I did what most students do – set off on a hunt to track down the perfect job that will in the end I did what most due after the search – give up and settle on a job that pays the rent. I became a Telemarketer.
Since then I’ve spent my adult-life in the call center world trying to make-up for my years as a telemarketer. I deeply enjoy my connection to customers and sharing my passions and knowledge, but even more I love to find out what knowledge they have to share with me; however, I have recently discovered that, intellectually speaking, I have reached my maximum growth potential in my industry. I could move up to supervisor, but then I’d be limiting myself from the direct customer contact I live to work for.
I have a few passions in life, but am very eclectic. I like to say that I know a little bit about everything, but not much about anything. Being the single mother of a toddler leaves very little free time, and in the spare time I have I’ve been continuing my education online at Shoreline Community College. My ultimate goal there is to get a Transfer Degree, major in Philosophy and continue on to law school.
In December of 2010 I lost my job. It was the first time I’d been unemployed since I’d graduated high school nearly 10 years earlier. I’d just set aside enough funds to be able to start flying this summer; however, my mortgage, food, and my three-year-old daughter of course came first. As I applied daily for work, I watched my savings melt away. Three months later, and over 300 applications in I was offered a position 86 miles from home and I began a painful daily commute.
Last spring, after finally letting go of the mental challenges of a severely abusive relationship, I sought to lose weight. Following in my father’s footsteps, as I often do, I started to ride a bicycle. It had been years since I’d rode. Over the course of the season I rode 1300 miles and lost 40 pounds. I found that I really love to get on my bicycle and just be alone in my thoughts and experiencing aspects of nature I couldn’t otherwise sustain in our normal day-to-day rush to get places way of life. I’ve slowly rolled up to a buck on the side of the road that showed an immense curiosity for my bicycle – while he sniffed and explored the bike, he also allowed me to touch him. It was a peaceful connection that never would be experienced for the person who moments later drove by in their Subaru and scared the buck back into the woods.
Life is full of chaos and stress at times. People spend so much time in a mad dash to get from point to point, that they don’t stop to look at the scenery around them. I’ve continued the tradition my father started when I was a child — my daughter Londyn and I will often go to the same spot my dad and I had been to so many times before and watch the planes coming and going. I love seeing the joy in her eyes as she is the first to spot a plane coming in for a landing. We’ve drove to the Bellingham Airport, and if my long 40 mile bike rides take us near the airport, we stop and watch the runway as I catch my breath.
Around the same time I was getting deeper into cycling, I found a friend who offered to take me flying. Having only flown in airliners, I jumped at the chance to soar in his Cessna 172. I will always remember the initial fear of taking off into the sky with somebody I barely knew. I will remember my intense curiosity for everything going on in the cockpit as we taxied to the runway. The surge of energy as we sped down runway 16 at KBLI followed by the total relaxation and inner peace and grounding that ironically came with lift-off. That was the moment I knew for sure that flying is something I am meant to do.
We flew over Puget Sound landing in Friday Harbor, and he happily pointed out the different islands that, despite having been born and raised in Northwest Washington, I’d only ever seen on a map.
Ever since that Memorial Day weekend I have regained my focus on flying and have spent my spare time researching flight, through books I can find in the bookstores, local messaging boards and several other pilot memberships. I’m typically a shy and quiet person, fairly reserved. When I find somebody who has a passion for flight, I find that my walls fall down and my eyes glass over in the same way as the pilots I’m speaking to. I have yet to meet a single pilot who doesn’t immediately come out of any shell that they have when the topic of flying emerges. The calm and comfort I find from cycling is exponentially increased while sitting in the cockpit.
This week [May 28th, when I initially wrote this] I signed paperwork turning my house back over to the owner I’d been purchasing from, and as I write this I am sitting in my new bedroom with my new roommate just under a mile away from KAWO. It is rather depressing to know that I am back to paying rent, but knowing the number of hours I will sit at the airport with my daughter watching as people take-off and land as we play at the park next door, walk our dog around the track and the certainty that the amount of money I’ll be saving by cutting my daily commute down by 120 miles will go back into my savings account towards my own pilots license more than makes up for this small defeat.
Around my neck I wear a dog tag with my medical information to speak for me in the event of a cycling accident. On the front is a quote by George Elliot that reads “It is never too late to be what you might have been”. I’ve held her words close to my heart as a reminder that I am the only person who can decide where I will be, and while past events have seemed to hold me back, or divert my path, I am ultimately the only person holding the yoke.
I already am a part of that world. I am going to obtain my own pilots license and continue to spread and share the joy, magic, and wonder of flight by telling my own stories and when I do I will find myself falling back to the childlike innocence of my first take-off as a passenger, the first time I was sitting in the right seat with my instructor by my side and the triumph of over-coming sheer nervousness of my first solo flight. Though I have yet to experience the thrill of solo-flight, I can imagine vividly the emotions that will arrive. The excitement of that moment pushes me forward. I didn’t get my chance to learn to fly while in high school. I didn’t think that I was capable of great things for many years, I did not recognize the greatness I was already putting forth, but I do recognize the greatness I am achieving now by living the life I was truly meant to live.