Rolling over in bed, I dare to open my eyes and see daylight streaming in past the closed blinds. My phone says 5 a.m., and my body begs for more sleep, but daylight begs to differ.
Yesterday felt like a long day. I arrived at the airport before 6 a.m. for my first flight, which took off on time but was delayed in the air due to weather. After attempting to run through DFW’s airport to get to my connecting flight, I arrived to the gate five minutes too late. (I do say ‘attempting to run’ thanks to the 65L Osprey pack strapped to me, causing it to be an awkwardly fast walk that felt like a run.) Having never missed a flight before, I of course started crying while the sweet American Airlines lady did some research and put me on two new flights, since missing that second flight also meant that I would miss my third flight. A new two and a half hour layover in Dallas, then a five and a half hour layover in Seattle meant I would arrive much later than planned in Juneau (and a lot later in central time hours than my body was used to staying awake).
But the last flight from Seattle to Juneau was breathtaking. The moment the mountains were visible, I just stared out the window, unable to stop grinning. At first – they were just watercolor paintings in the distance. But as we got closer, they gained dimension and detail. Sun reflected off lakes below, coloring them a brilliant orange as if liquid gold was pooling together. Clouds, snow, sky blended together, confusing where one ended and another began. Fog curled itself around crests of mountains, intertwining itself just below the peaks.
The descent – we hit the layer of clouds, and visibility was nonexistent. Yet as we continued to descend, a light shone through, a reflection from water. Water, land, and sea began to separate, and mountains rose in greeting.
And my heart had this strange sense of coming home, even after being away for five years.