My mind was telling me not to go, to turn and run the other way. My feet, however, seemed to have a mind of their own.
I climbed into the stuffy compartment, sat, and secured my seat belt, double-checking it was tight. Then I examined the foreign environment. There must have been a hundred dials on that dashboard in front of me, each one looking more complicated than a calculus problem. The windshield was filthy with the remains of bugs and who knows what else. The doors locked and I immediately felt trapped. My cousin, Bobby, took his seat next to me and gave me a headset identical to his. I awkwardly placed the bulky device over my ears and sat back, gripping the door handle. Anticipating what was about to happen, I took deep breaths.
The engine roared to life.
Vibrations filled the cockpit, hitting me from every angle. We began our slow, bumpy crawl toward the runway. Over the headset I heard Bobby tell me that during the pre-flight check I would hear him talking to himself as well as chatter from pilots in the sky. He assured me he knew what he was doing, but regardless, I was beginning to feel sick.
The plane came to a stop at the runway’s starting point and Bobby began the pre-flight checklist. When done, he glanced at me and asked if I were nervous. I managed a weak smile, pressing myself deeper into my seat.
We set off down the runway, picking up speed. As we accelerated, I watched the lights become a streaking blur of yellows, reds and blues. As I saw the end of the pavement approach, I said a quick prayer and closed my eyes.
My stomach dropped.
Opening my eyes, I realized we had left the ground and I took in the sight before me. Through the splattered bugs, I saw a sunset that was breathtaking. Instantly, all my nervousness disappeared. The sky was peaceful - how could anyone be afraid up here? For a moment, I no longer was stressing about getting into college, trying to keep my grades up, or arguing with a friend. Here nothing mattered, and for the first time in my life I could take in the simple beauty of life and the world. The brilliant colors of the sky and the luscious green of the trees - I never wanted to come down. This had officially become my favorite place to be in the entire world.
I enjoyed seeing my hometown from a different angle. There was my school, my stores, the neighborhoods I walked through; I sat speechless. The highway that usually seems so intimidating appeared tiny and unthreatening. Bobby and I exchanged a few comments about how surreal everything appeared, but I was so engulfed in the view I felt incapable of talking. Everything looked so perfect; I never wanted to come down.
A few weeks have passed, and I’m back to worrying about college and grades. Every evening as I drive home from practice, I watch the sunset and try to picture it from that new perspective. I envision the traffic jam from the clouds. Instead of hearing blaring horns, I’d hear the soothing rumble of a plane engine. With a different perspective, all the fears, stress and worries of my hectic life can vanish into thin air. All I need to do is take a step back.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.