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TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS

TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS

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WAXING MY WINGS I think that I was born with somewhat of an Icarus syndrome. Ever since I was a tiny Jenn I’ve always loved to fly, and the fascination remains with me today. Of course, I prefer wings that are welded and made of steel as opposed to those feathered and adhered with wax, but I think you know what I mean. There’s something about glimpsing the world from a vantage point where the people disappear, where scale shifts and geography widens, that stills me. From thousands of feet in the air the will of any one being falls away and towns, cities even, begin to show personalities in and of themselves. Over the past several weeks I had occasion to fly from Philadelphia to Dallas to Chicago to Memphis. Such is the whirlwind of the thrifty vacationer who’ll make connections in favor of reduced airfares. The synopsis of my journey: NJ/Philly, 24 hours (after 17 hours in the car, yippee); Dallas, 2 hours; LA, 96 hours; Chicago, 5 hours; airtime, roughly 10. While the trip was fun, and I had the perfect holiday with my family on my brief day spent in New Jersey, one of the best parts of the entire trip was looking at our city from overhead at night. Having my first pedicure, writing a wedding ceremony, running around barefoot in a Chinese bridesmaid’s dress that didn’t quite fit me, drinking too many White Russians and spending too much money on myself in the spirit of vacation weren’t too bad either. The grandeur of my return was probably heightened in significance due to the gut-shattering proliferation of turbulence from O’Hare to Memphis. Even post-September 11th, I still love to fly, though I apparently represent something of a security threat in my appearance and am ALWAYS the person whose bags are randomly screened. But a small plane jostling through thunderstorms does not a happy traveler make. Even for a travel-happy Jenn. That being said, the sight of Memphis lit up like a Lite-Brite below me was gorgeous. I saw tiny model houses with their tinier model cars in the driveway, all without conflict or trouble perceptible from such a height. Just barely could I make out the vaguest hint of some holiday lights, most likely from the more ostentatious holiday cheer types. I haven’t yet decided whether it was this holiday display or that along the highway to the Jersey shore, cast in the glare of sleet and snow, that was more impressive. To be sure, I saw neither from my normal vantage pointÑthat of the last minute shopper who might or might not notice them on the way to Target or some such last-minute shopping Mecca. But back to Memphis from the sky… The lights of the bridge twinkled in the Mississippi’s eyes, and the Pyramid looked less like a debated social eyesore and more majestic, like a pyramid should be. Trailer hitches awaiting trucks or railway assignment were piled high like so many Legos. And our airport being the distribution capital for all airports, there were of course many other planes all around in their own holding patterns. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many planes awaiting landing in my life, with the possible exception of Newark airport. It’s funny, what looks like a swarm of red fireflies is really millions of other things-- people, mail, cargo. To put this all in perspective, I spent about 13 of the hours preceding my descent either in the air or languishing in various airports, but I don’t think the overhead view of the city at night would have diminished any were it only one. Like I said, perception is a funny thing from the sky.

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