Nota bene: I am currently abroad in London, so while I’m here, I will be writing what is likely to become a series of posts that combine the experiential, the factual, and the fictional. There is a magic to traveling abroad, and my mind likes to make full-use of that magic. Please enjoy these quasi-fictional ramblings, as I make my way back to my favourite city in the world for the first time in three years.
CAVE OF MIND (or, DREAMS OF FLIGHT)
I can’t sleep on planes. I don’t know why, but unless I’m entirely exhausted — i.e. am already sleep-deprived when I board — then I’m not going to sleep. And my flight to London was no different. I was awake the entire flight, keeping myself quietly entertained for the entirety of those eight hours. Since I know I’m not going to sleep, I hook into whatever films are available, but even more than that, I turn on specific songs and just let my mind wander freely.
This post takes its title from my favourite flying track, coming from the soundtrack to Howl’s Moving Castle, composed by Joe Hisaishi. It’s beautiful, it’s wistful — the best way I can imagine joy and sadness coming together in a piece of music. When I look out my window into the starry expanse above, that’s the song I make sure to hear. I imagine a part of myself breaking away from my seated and trapped body, soaring along the air currents outside, feeling not cold, but the tingling rush of starlight. I dance on the wing, I dive and float and fly — fly far, far away…
And there! There, do you not see the dragon in the clouds? It ripples alongside the plane, a silent protector in the skies, ensuring we make our way across the pond, over the perilous sea of monsters below. I’ve heard of them: those daemons of the deep. Dark scales that rest as rocks for sailors to hit, the luring song of the sirens that the gods even ache for, so beautiful is the sound — clearer than starlight, richer than sun’s warmth…and deadlier than a thunderbolt.
Beneath the waves lies an endless deep of horrors and beauty, for it is not all evil there…just here, where the mortals dare to tread and fear. But I am not afraid, for I am beside that dragon with the starlight on my skin, looking through the window to my own, vacant body. I pray to the stars, I pray to Selene, the moon, who watches us from above in her shimmering cloth of nightlight. I pray to Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, that she may guard my arrow as one of her followers in this fight. Yes, my arrows are there, the hunt is on. I look to the dragon at my side and it nods.
We must fly and we must fight. And we must do so now. We must battle the darkness and the depths, battle the shadows and creatures of the night, battle the things that lurk where humans cannot see. Where I cannot see. I see the stars above me, and there is quiet, quiet even above the roaring of the plane’s engines. The quiet intake of breath before the storm, a moment of silence poised on the quivering knife-edge of action.
I think I might sleep now — and then the lights are on. It is time to adjust, time to put the body on time that is not quite my own. Time to bring myself back, back to the magic of a memory three years’ past.
Back to London.