There is an undeniable freedom of being able to fly.
The moment my feet left the ground for the first time, I shot up into the air, climbing to feel the leaves of the birch trees brush against my skin. The immediate pinch in my arm was soon replaced by a tingle of pleasure rushing through my system.
I saw my feet dangling below me, and I felt a sensation like I have never felt before. Already, I loomed over the trees of my apartment as I felt myself detach from the physical body, which anchored me to the ground. The delicate hues of red and purple on the sparsely covered branches were surreal. It was as if they were painted exactly that way for me to enjoy.
At 50 feet, the people of New York looked like ants, and I felt my lungs rejoice at the cool, fresh air. What I knew as my shoddy apartment complex now blended with the dozens of other complexes of the same caliber. The crisp wind pushed against me, cradling me in a blanket of cold air. My breathing slowed down as I admired the beauty of the world around me; for the first time, I really felt alive. The adrenaline that filled me before began to decline, but it did not change the beauty of the trees or the white-covered grass below me.
I soared up to 10,000 feet, and the sight that I beheld took my breath away. Around me, flocks of birds migrated south as delicate snowflakes dropped to the Earth below me. I noticed the curvature of the Earth along with the tiny, almost insignificant humans bustling about their busy lives. The frigid temperature did not even faze me in the magnificence of the port of New York meeting with the land. I thought about the days of my childhood, where my mother would take me to the port and watch the ships load its cargo. She would tell me, “Each of those ships carry tons and tons of weight, but no matter how far they have to travel to get to the place they need to be, they always get there in the end”.
The day of her death was the day I spiraled out of control. The comfort of the world that I once felt was gone, save for the days that I flew; all it took was a sting in my arm. In that time, I felt the beauty that I once knew. It wasn’t until several flights that the comfort was replaced with fear. I looked down, realizing that my physical body was pulling me back to reality, back into the cold world that I so desperately wanted to escape. With a single cough, the feathers I carried on my back for those brief moments became heavy, and I felt myself fall. Faster and faster. Seconds turned to minutes and I saw reality as it was. I plummeted, and the blanket of air let go of me, letting me fall into the frigidness. My whole life, I wanted to fly. My whole life, the wings on my back became heavier with stress and grief. Sometimes, it is hard to make it to where you want to go with too much weight on your back.
The thing that my mother didn’t tell me was that not all ships made it to their destination. Some caved in under the pressure and drowned with the weight. The difference was that I wasn’t drowning. I was falling.