The red eye from Los Angeles to New York leaves at 11pm Pacific Central Time and lands at 7:25am New York Time. The flight is about five hours long.
When you first take off, L.A. has every light turned on that it possibly owns. It shines up under the clouds like lava glowing under the surface of broken rocks. You sore high into the night sky, and see several other planes making their last dash effort to leave the city and set sail to other times zones and other days.
Once you head off around Santa Barbara dark black velvet landscape sits underneath, the base of your cushion that reaches all the way up to thirty five thousand feet. Sitting in this deep velvet is a spattering of twinkling lights and masses of clumped sequins. These jewels reflect the towns from California, Nevada, Arizona, Collorado, Nebraska and Illinois. The mounds of luminous warm orange light create the sensation of little eco-domes on a flat landscape.
What I notice most is population. When you fly over Australia at night, the land is dark. With the occasional light speck in the sea of the complete darkness. There are few people that live in the Australian remote regions. But flying over the U.S. I notice that there are people everywhere as far as the eye can see.
All these lives lived in the darkness below, the odd beam of light traveling in the black landscape. Who is traveling in that car below, and where are they going? What is their personal journey? What has prompted them to be up at this hour that I happen to be hovering above them thirty five thousand feet above? Do they feel like they are being watched by some wanker with a smart vocabulary who waxes lyrically about their existence?
I look towards the horizon and a slight pale cool blue haze rises in the east. A slight crescent stretching out and around to embrace these little towns. Like a whisper letting them know a new day is coming. The small crescent eventually rises to become a blue blur across the horizon where orange begins to frame the light. A new dawn rises.
The velvet drops away to reveal a landscape. Vehicles begin to dot the long winding highways. More people stir across this long wide land.
Rural turns to suburban turns to urban turns to metropolis.
And the first thing that I see is the Statue of Liberty.