Beginning the New Year with a Leap

In my past year’s wanderings and rambles, I have surprised myself in staying mostly within North Texas and the town I’ve come closer to calling “home.” I had envisioned a wider range, a bit more adventure in measurable units like miles, or boundaries like states or nations. On the other hand, I have found and observed more than I expected right under my own feet.

The year 2024 is ringing in with something quite far-flung and different.

While I am not a stranger to airports and flight, I am not exactly a frequent flyer either. It is novel enough that I can still be astonished. Of my own free will, I conducted myself to a place where an entire industry depends upon and caters to people who are willing to walk and gather amongst total strangers with heavy bags and valuables upon them, then put themselves (not to mention some of the bags and valuables) on human conveyor belts and escalators, to stand shoeless in a series of crowded lines to be X-rayed and searched, in order to put themselves in at least one (but often two or more) giant tubes which are then flung into the air by the force of volatile combustible liquids, about 7 miles high and at roughly 600 miles an hour, for hours of time and thousands of miles, to then land with a screeching lurch and repeat the walk and conveyor belts and lines.

The other day, I put myself on those lines and into those tubes willingly – even joyfully – in order to see a wonderful friend and perhaps meet some new ones. I was amongst the old and the young, the healthy and infirm, the bright-faced and the grizzled; people with children, people with dogs and cats, people with small packages and large bundles, going in all the directions of the four winds to all corners of the Earth. We are extraordinary creatures, to put ourselves in such varied circumstances so calmly and matter-of-factly. To my great satisfaction, I saw no disruptions, no quarrels, no disputes. I witnessed only patience, and several instances of obvious kindness, as people relinquished or traded seats, entertained strangers’ children or cleared the way for someone struggling through. I had an interesting conversation with a man from Macedonia.

And so I begin the new year in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston and the historic namesake of the Fig Newton cookie. I am visiting a dear friend from childhood, seeing once again her beautiful children and meeting a few of her friends. It has been raining, the deeply satisfying days-long rain of the north Atlantic coast, so the sight-seeing I have done thus far has been out of windows. Even so, I have the advantage of views in three directions from several stories high. I have enjoyed the novelty of the foggy skyline of historic homes and churches to the south and the leaf-littered, glacier-sculpted hills and tall trees of back yards to the north. I’ve been spying on the big-city hustle and bustle of Newton’s main street businesses to the west, contrasted with the casual ease of the restaurant and other workers as they take their smoke breaks in the back parking lot.

I hope to have much more to report before the trip back to Texas, but in the meantime, please be kind and remember what extraordinary beings we are.

greta ode
Greta Ode is currently enjoying “tiny house” living in Weatherford, Texas. She has been published in Flash Fiction Magazine and is an editor and contributor to Tandeta Journal. Her work can be found on Substack at “Ramble, Bramble.”

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