My departing flight from Kathmandu nearly a month ago occurred around 11 at night. From the runway, a cloudy sky hid a surprise: the plane took off through that foggy layer, breaking the surface to reveal a mystic landscape brightly lit by the waning moon. I’ve always loved to float above the clouds; I’ve always been enamored with the sense that one could simply jump out the window and bounce along the soft ripples, safe and warm and free. Over 9 flights (to the US and back again), I saw a great many cloud-scapes that month, each enticing in its own way.
To fly over the Pacific Ocean means to cross the international date line, which means – you guessed it – time travel. Real life, unquestionable, time travel. On my way to the US I gained a full day. Practically speaking I gained 6 hours: I took off from Tokyo at 5pm on Friday July 18th, and landed in SF at 11AM on Friday July 18th. This means that at noon that day I was eating Salmon in two countries at the same time – first as part of a sushi plate in a small restaurant by the Tokyo fish market, second sauteed with asparagus and blackberries in a mushroom cream sauce by the Berkeley Marina. Pure magic.
Of course, most advancements must be repaid. To travel across the date line the opposite direction (east to west) means to lose a day. Of this, I am not certain how much real time I lost. What I do know is I have no answer to the question: “where were you on July 31st 2014?” On my final flight, between some city in southern China and Kathmandu, a nearly full moon graced the sky.