...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...

A Split-Second Shot of Something

This weekend I went to the airshow. We sat out on a blanket in one of the parks on the opposite side of the freeway, surrounded by bustling families, excited kids, people grilling, and the tinkle of hordes of ice cream trucks that attacked the parks like mosquitos. This is where we'd occasionally go to watch it when I was little as well (either that or the roof of my grandma's apartment complex where we were able to catch that invisible stealth bomber plane more than once)--my parents were masters at finding free activities for us all the time back then. (This is why I'd never been on an actual vacation until I was nearly a senior in high school. This is also why I'm such a book-nerd. Although I do appreciate the shit outta my mom for this--at least once a week we spent an exorbitant amount of time in the library. It was always one of the highlights of my week, and picking out random books to pour my attention into was one of my favorite things to do as a child. Still is. Yes==book nerd. Anyways...)

Everytime I go to the air show as an adult, I go in thinking, "Eh. It's something to do. It's nice weather so at least we can sit out on a blanket and enjoy it." But man alive, I am still such a fricking kid at heart. I *LOVE* watching the planes shoot across the sky at high speeds. I love watching them whip around and tumble in spirals and shoot smoke out their asses and fall head over butt down towards the ground. I love hearing their loud noises confuse me as they resound after the plane is already long-gone past. I love that the sonic boom of a plane is exactly the same noise as the crack of a whip (except louder of course)--that both are breaking the sound barrier because of ridiculous speed which results in that loud cracking noise. I love trying to pick them out in the slightly tree-masked sky, and when I do, shouting, "There it is!!!" and pointing.

And most of all, I love love love watching the planes fly in formation. This is awesome and amazing to me. On the news they said that the Thunderbirds actually fly as close as THREE FEET from one another. Three feet. Perfectly synchronized. Perfectly choreographed. Like smooth-skinned, long-limbed, lithe dancers, playing out their moves ever so carefully against a back-drop of blue. It amazes me that there is something so aesthetically appealing about watching this--and clearly there is, otherwise folks wouldn't flock to the parks and the shows to WATCH these planes DO these things. And yet, there is something just as beautiful as a painting, a play, a dance routine in these planes moving as one entity through the sky. I don't know quite why this is, but I'm all about it. Perhaps it's partially the fact that planes are so fantastically weird and amazing--like giant metal birds. I mean, some of those bastards weigh like 140 tons (and that's just the Thunderbirds--imagine how much commercial airliners weigh), they are massive hulks of twisted metal, and yet they cut through the sky like a shiny butterknife through a pad of room-temperature butter. So perhaps some of the aesthetic appeal is sheerly linked to the fact that these big-ass things so fantastically defy gravity in ways that seem impossible for something of their weight and mass. Because it is fantastic. I find myself thinking this at least once a week (seriously), when I see some plane arching through the sky and think of how strange and yet wonderful this is, how much like something out of a sci-fi novel or something.

Or maybe the aesthetic appeal is just that return to a state of child-likeness, where you can happily ooh and ahh and giggle and point and get excited about something in a way that most people typically don't do on a regular basis. Who knows.

But I ramble. So instead of yammering on and on some more, I leave you with an excerpt from a Tomas Transtromer poem whose images I never fail to call up when I see a plane piercing the steely blue sky. May you never fail to think of this when your jaw drops at the awesomeness of those hulking metal beasts:

Sun burning. The plane comes in low
throwing a shadow shaped like a giant cross that rushes over the ground.
A man is sitting in the field poking at something.
The shadow arrives.
For a fraction of a second he is right in the centre of the cross.

I have seen the cross hanging in the cool church vaults.
At times it resembles a split-second shot of something
moving at tremendous speed.

("I Det Fria"--Tomas Transtromer)



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