Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Last Time Around

I was shot down over the Pacific.

When I hit the blue water it was over in an instant. I knew it would be and it somehow seemed right. Like it was supposed to end that way. I don’t remember who I left behind but I know I was where I wanted to be. Not for some political agenda but for my own journey. I loved to fly.

Sometimes it comes to me now. In flashes. But not visuals. More like sensory flashes. Driving down Sunset early in the morning when the curves draw me in and the cylinders are clicking. How I can almost see around the corners. I’ve always driven with blind, animal instinct. Like flying. It’s where I’m most at ease. In the machine. Most in control and also most zened out and let go.

I was in an air museum last month. There to see a Da Vinci exhibit but drawn as always to the World War Two planes. Admiring a P51D Mustang. Always been my favorite. Always felt like I have an inherent right to climb up into that cockpit – though I never have. A bright-eyed docent struck up a conversation with me. He was 82. “Flyboy” said his blue cap. His clear, aqua eyes bored into me past this body. He sought me out in between helping tourists. We wandered among Da Vinci’s machines talking about flying for the short winter afternoon. I was completely at ease with him. Like I’d missed him. I knew him.

It began to make sense. My affinity for these beautiful machines – a harmony of engineering and design. My fearless, intuitive driving. The calm knowledge that I won’t be going out that way because I already have. I am curious to know if I can find the life of that young boy, the friend of the aqua-eyed docent. I want to know who I was.

I was shot down over the Pacific. It was a sunny day. Morning. I was perfectly at ease. It fit, like the closing of a chapter. I am still in my Mustang at the bottom of the ocean. Home for coral and flying fish.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Webs said...

You realize that, traffic ticket be damned, you are one step closer to being the perfect woman.

Check out the WarBirds and Furball links on my blog.

ANd when I finish the next draft of the 101 story, I'm sending you a copy. I'm guessing 18 months....

10:37 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

You likely already saw this, but in a book called Life: Our Century of Change (Bulfinch Press) a series of experts and commentators from various disciplines talked about great ideas and topics from the 20th century. In the area of "Engineering," computer scientist and essayist David Gelertner offered the following as support for his choice for "Object of the Century":

“If you line up the very best objects of the 20th Century, the loveliest and most powerful ones, you will have sculpture by Giacometti and Joseph Cornell, Matisse cutouts, abstract paintings by de Kooning and a nude or two by Modigliani; you will also have paintings by Stuart Davis that are full of machine images. And you will have the machines themselves. The P-51 Mustang fighter (first flown in its definitive form—American airframe, British engine—in 1942) might well be the 20th Century’s most beautiful object. It has surging grace, uncanny poise, moral grandeur—embodying the power and heroism that ventures everything to defend home and freedom and truth. Eventually you will find a P-51 at the center of some great American art museum, and then you will know that this country has finally come to terms with the last century and its machines and their greatness.”

I have long argued that certain people can be categorized by that one thing which somehow sings to their soul. Some people love horses, some love kittens, some love unicorns, and some of us love airplanes.

What amazes me is the fact that there are—apparently—people for whom the growl of a charging Merlin and the glint of reflected sunlight off the polished aluminum of a fast moving '51 do **not** provoke reflexive chills and smiles. Sorry, but for me, that's high grade mech-porn.
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9:58 AM  
Blogger Brett said...

Oh, and if you've not seen this, you might like it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtprTL66-FY

A Spit and a Camel in formation at an airshow in England. The first half of teh clip is background info on the Camel, which is cool, but what I love best is the final 15 or so seconds when the Spitfire finally is cut loose from formation and gets to run free, and that sound... that Merlin sound... ooooo, baby. ;-)
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10:11 AM  
Blogger Heidi said...

See if more girls understood that machines are where it's at...well then y'all have some serious competition at classic car auctions.

Webs I'd love to read it!

Brett thanks for all this. I am a huge fan of the growl. My muffler fell off over a year ago but i'm not fixing it 'cause i love the growl i have now!

10:25 AM  

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