A Flight to Illumination - My Family Travels

Chairs were filled with adults, quiet and taut with impatience. Huddles of children ran to and fro with fingers pointed at the sight of landing planes. A voice that occasionally came over the speaker would change the entire ambience of the place, filling it with eager smiles and shrieks. This was the John F. Kennedy airport. In just moments, I thought, I would be on my way to Ireland as part of the Walnut Hill Summer Writing Program. My arms and legs jolted, acknowledging the thrill and joy in my heart. This trip would be unlike any other. But I still had to endure the wait before the flight. Within minutes, my fellow peers and I went from playing anagrams to fumbling hopelessly in our chairs. I finally turned on my iPod, listened, and lay back with shut eyes. I imagined streaks of greens and yellows; the waves of the Irish Sea; the delicacy of the white sheep.

Then there was a sudden ringing. Was it the song that was playing on my iPod? No. I broke open my eyes, worried and curious, and pulled the headphones out of my ears. Looking around, I recognized the noise. It was a bell. Behind me were a woman and man staying outside of an arrival gate. The woman, shaking the small golden bell in her hand, stood unmoved by giggles and bewildered glares. I looked to my peers and instructors for a sign of understanding, but saw only a pattern of raised eyebrows, creased foreheads, and open mouths.

People began to come out of the arrival gate. A man, a few children, an elderly couple, more and more people. Still the woman did not cease her ringing of the bell. The entire room sunk in anxiety—until a tall, young man appeared at the door. He broke a smile; a smile that told everyone that he had been waiting for this moment all along, for months, for years perhaps. The woman and man held the same smile. He wore an Army Combat Uniform and walked out toward the woman and man with a joyful gait, throwing up his arms facetiously as he, too, heard the bell. He bent his knees slightly to hug the woman, his mother, who by then had begun to shed tears of relief, and then his father, who gave him a proud, thankful pat on his back. The room rejoiced in happy tears and applause, watching the family, finally united, leave.

A warmth was stirred inside of me, and I knew, then, that my journey had already begun. I had already traveled to some place, for a trip is not only a change in location, but also a change in perspective. My mind had traveled a distance to the grand illumination: some people fly on these planes to have a vacation, some to study abroad, and some, just some, to be together with their loved ones again.

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