One Year Later

 Insight Coffee: 10th St, Sacramento, where I've worked since last June.

Insight Coffee: 10th St, Sacramento, where I've worked since last June.

Mid-day: a blistering hot street in Land Park, Sacramento. A bearded man in Toms dismounts his bicycle and carries it through his front door. He is greeted by a Chihuahua and a Maltese who yip and lick his legs. He hurriedly makes a sandwich and brews his third cup of coffee that day, bringing both with him into an upstairs room. Above his desk hangs a U.S. VFR Wall Planning Chart, 1:3,100,000 scale. The northeastern portion of the map features a connected series of red lines drawn with Expo wet erase. He sits and begins to plan.

 

For the last 6 hours I’ve felt fine, mainly because I’ve been ignoring the chorus of “To-Dos” thrumming in my limbic system. The knowledge of how little time I have left crashes in on me and I feel panic. I open a voicemail on my phone: it’s from the documentary’s Director, Stephen, expressing the same. We have just enough time to get to day 1 of production.

 Faces I come home to every day for 500, please.

Faces I come home to every day for 500, please.

 

The good news: I’m flying again. I have a pilot’s license. I passed my exam in March, shaved to celebrate -- then immediately regretted that and haven’t shaved since. I ran my first full marathon. I’ve flown every chance I’ve had, even though those opportunities were marred at one point by a series of light repairs and alterations that had to be completed. The upshot of the tweaks and repairs: Eddy is running better than ever. The downside, obviously, was the loss of two months.

I feel a bit like the kid who starts a “travel journal” on vacation and comes back to it years later feeling sorry for neglecting it. The honest fact of it, Dear Reader, is that I haven’t had oodles to report. I’ve been doing the same thing I’ve always done: hang in there, do everything I can to get to day 1.

 The ceaseless workload; I meet it joyfully.

The ceaseless workload; I meet it joyfully.

Every second of my day is hung up with planning or making phone calls. In a lot of ways this makes me very happy: I finally have concrete plans about which airports I’ll land at and what we’ll film in which parts of the country. It makes me smile when Helen (by far the greatest Long Island accent I’ve ever heard) calls me from Montauk Airport (our finish line) and tells me there’s hangar space available.

In other ways it’s rattled me. I’m exhausted with the push of getting ready for this. I berate myself constantly for, really, having done anything else except prep for this trip… and I am tired of this. I miss having the time to compose music; I haven’t written a story in over a year. These are the things that I have always had, have always done; For the better part of the last three years I’ve put them aside. I look forward to the day I wake up and find only “drink coffee and read” on the agenda.

Mercifully, at the end of each week’s stream of “GO GO GO!” I am reminded of why I haven’t ever, for a second, given up.

Early morning, a quiet Sacramento street. Sprinkler systems are running. A bearded man emerges from his home carrying a travel mug of hot coffee. He locks the door, gets in a car, and guns it south for Lodi. There is no traffic.

After a thorough pre flight he takes off on runway 26 in his trike and turns to the southeast. He climbs into a layer of warm air at 1,500 feet and levels off. The sun is just rising, the land below is golden. Mount Diablo stares solemnly. The air smells fresh, the atmosphere winds around the fairing of his trike. The hum of his engine and the hiss of the air streaming around him are the only sounds, the world passing under him the only thing to see. He breathes a sigh and hears the crackle of his own headset in his ears. He has 4 hours of this ahead of him. Moving along at 50 mph, he is home.