It finally happened! I've been expecting it since official date of retirement last June, but for some reason it just wouldn't spin up and play. But last night the barriers came down and the greatest flying dream of all time played out on the big silver screen behind sleeping eyelids.
Before retirement, flying dreams usually occurred almost immediately after successful completion of a long, complex project–professional or personal. A glorious mental release after so many months of inception thought, detailed rethought and planning, replanning, execution, plan adjustments, execution adjustments, quality assurance, pre-production testing and configuration tweaks, packaging, roll out, independent verification and validation (sometimes including grueling post-project technical and financial audits), not to mention all of the necessary and unnecessary meetings interspersed throughout every phase of work. So upon completion of the longest project of life last June I expected a kick ass flying dream or two within days of the grand event.
The long wait was worth it, though. Last night's flying dream was as lucid as it was detailed and protracted. It included places and people involved in several key phases of life from childhood to present, especially my parents and grandparents, beginning with my mother taking me outside one evening a couple of years after Sputnik had launched to sit on a central Oklahoma hillside together and see if we could spot it in orbit. I don't recall ever actually seeing Sputnik, but memory of sitting there with my mother that evening sixty years ago as summer day warmth gradually cooled after sunset has always been vivid and pleasant. A simple, loving event that became a cherished memory persisting throughout this life of 62.69 years to this very day after fleeting memory of it yesterday served as catalyst for the biggest, greatest flying dream of all time last night.
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Levitating before her, giggling as her eyes widened in shocked amazement, I soared into the night sky in search of the little Russian satellite. Unable to track it down amongst the stars, the scene shifted to our first campout near the shore of Dead Indian Lake at the northern end of the Black Kettle National Grassland. As night fell, my father pumped up and lit a lantern. Hanging it on a big, rusty nail someone had driven into a tree growing beside the picnic table. it hissed and glowed bright and yellow, attracting moths, mayflies and june bugs–revealing brown cicada nymph husks still clinging to rough bark of trees nearby. A mouse ran across my brother's foot, making us all laugh. We had no tent to shelter in that night, simply settling down to sleep in warm, Sears & Roebuck cotton bags beneath a canvas tarp my father spread over us in case of unexpected rain or heavy morning dewfall. I stared into the depths of a night sky filled with more stars than I had ever noticed before, wondering at the vast beauty of it. Levitating with pockets full of wild plums gathered during the day, I soared north and west across expansive grasslands, rolling hills and mesas toward tall rocky mountains we would soon explore and camp in together on vacations as a family. Black Mesa, Clayton Lake, Cripple Creek, Clear Lake, Curecanti at Blue Mesa, Big Blue...I was wearing a navy blue hooded jacket (now called a "hoodie") to guard against dry chill of high-altitude atmosphere.
Flying eastward across panhandles and plains of Texas and Oklahoma, then south to the gulf coast, I visited homes we lived in and numerous wild areas we had hiked and camped and swam in along the way before heading west to the arid, machine-scarred flatness of the Permian Basin where my father helped keep oil and gas wells from blowing out on locations scattered amongst wide patches of cactus and mesquite. After final performance of a play with the local children's theater group, I flew home and watched from above as we partied and a spoof of the play unfolded in the back yard. At its conclusion, I levitated and flew far to the north over vast fields of corn and soybean near the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Riding a pig farmer's big, friendly black gelding bareback deep into a corn field, I levitated from the steed and jetted across the Atlantic Ocean to take a wild nighttime taxi ride through Beirut, then flew effortlessly eastward to the foothills of the Alborz Mountains and capered around at night just a few feet above noisy, crowded streets of Tehran where drivers honked car horns incessantly and frantically flashed headlights instead of stopping for oncoming traffic at blind intersections.
Flying around the planet with brief sojourns in Thailand and Australia before soaring back to the previous day across the Pacific to Honolulu and then mainland USA for a taste of San Francisco–vomiting all day on a fishing trip in the bay and purchasing new albums by Earl Scruggs, Cat Stevens and Leo Kottke at Tower Records the next day–I returned to live with grandparents in Oklahoma (with a brief, exciting October escape back into the Rockies) before finding myself finally graduating from high school.
Sitting beside my long-time friend and schoolmate Rick, we talked excitedly about what the future held for us. Levitating and waving good-bye to my class of sixty young adults, I glided over locations in which I had experienced life as a common laborer. Flights from scrubland oil and gas fields of north Texas to high sandy plains in the panhandle of Oklahoma took me to places where jobs of back-breaking, grimy work and very little interest consumed time and energy before finally flying south again over bustling college towns where I slowly, but surely and steadily, learned how to think and work as a competent computer scientist and mathematician.
Hovering over the DFW metroplex, wondering at the decade I tolerated life married to a black-hearted first wife while working as a professional for several corporations within that stinking, churning cesspool, I soared back north and west to the front range of the Rocky Mountains once again. After a spin over Bear Creek Park and the split-level house I lived in at its southern boundary, I hovered over a busy intersection to watch an idiot employee of a bankster organization I had once worked for blithely run a red light and smash his brand new minivan into my brand new SUV while yakking away on his new-fangled cell phone. After watching from above as I chased the dumbass down to leap in a rage out of my mangled SUV with intent to kick his stupid ass as hard as I could, I decided to soar away from that fool and that city as police gathered his information and took eye-witness accounts of the crash, yelling down at him as I flew away that it was a damn good thing his children weren't in the vehicle with him when he ran the red light. The collision had totaled the minivan, shattering all of the passenger compartment windows and caved in the sliding door almost across the width of the little van's chassis. Any children sitting back there would have been horribly mangled, if not instantly killed, upon impact.
Gliding south along the lengthy range of Sangre de Cristo Mountains, I turned west and hovered over desert lands of Madrid, Cerrillos and Santa Fe, wondering how in the world I survived the load of crap years endured living and working there–an ungrateful ex-wife still alive, kicking and sucking air almost two decades after helping her survive her cancer attack. First spitting, then taking a long, steaming piss on "The City Different" below before heading back east across the Sangre de Cristos, a lingering hover over this final, delightful homestead of twelve years in remote, forested foothills where no one else dwells except me and wildlife brought the dream to a wholly satisfying conclusion.