Saturday, May 26th, 2012

I dreamed I could fly. A woman I worked with told me how she did it. I ran into her in the break room and, while I was nuking my lunch in the microwave, I asked her what she did last weekend. She answered, casually, Oh, I was flying.

I see, I answered her. Is that right?

Yes, she said, I’ve been doing it for years, but I’ve only recently learned how to fly high enough to do loops and dives. The secret, she said, was to wear a long, loose coat, take a long, running jump, and to square your shoulders just as your feet left the ground.

At least, that’s how it works for me, she cautioned. If you try it, you might have to do it just a little bit differently.

Well. Yes. Ah, lunch is ready! See you around!

I thought she was loony as a Canadian dollar, of course, but it just so happened that I had a long, loose overcoat in my closet, and it just so happened to be cold enough to wear it that weekend when I walked down the street to the corner store. Going the long way around the block on the way home, I turned down a lonely street and picked up the pace a little bit. Then, a couple of times, I skipped high enough for both feet to leave the ground, squaring my shoulders back as they did.

Nothing special happened. I didn’t get any more air than I would have if I’d skipped without thinking that maybe it was possible to fly because some crazy lady suggested that I could if I dressed for it. Of course, she also said I had to take a running jump, not walk a little faster and skip, so, just to prove to myself that she was crazy and I wasn’t, I ran. I stretched out my stride until I was running along at a pretty good clip and then, just before I got to the corner, I planted both feet, jumped into the air and squared my shoulders back, just as she said I should do.

I cleared the treetops by at least fifty feet.

Mine was not a graceful flight. I did not soar through the skies like Superman, one arm stretched out before me, with a look of purpose on my face. I’ve never been a graceful athlete in any case, but when my feet left the ground and I realized that they were going to keep leaving the ground, I panicked, because I had not planned my flight with any kind of foresight at all. There were several very tall trees in my path and I ended up windmilling my arms to thrash my way through the upper branches of the one immediately in front of me. That sent me tumbling through the air so that, as I came back down on a ballistic curve, I was flailing my arms and legs in every direction, trying to regain some sense of balance before I hit the ground. To my great amazement, I landed on my feet.

Straightening my coat, I looked around for anybody that might be staring at the guy who’d just flown a block and a half over the trees, scattering his groceries all over the street. Didn’t see anybody.

Okay. Well. Can’t just go back home and sit on the sofa with a book after that. Could’ve been a fluke. Or a psychotic episode.

Trying a little harder to fly higher this time, I succeeded in shooting almost straight up several hundred feet, flipping end over end as I reached the peak of my flight, and finding myself diving headfirst at the ground. Yikes.

At this point you’re probably thinking: Pffft! You’re not flying! Sounds to me like you’re just jumping real high. And I would’ve had to give you that. However, as I plummeted to the ground, looking directly at the square of pavement I really didn’t want to smash into, I turned my face up toward the sky, focused on the tops of some distant clouds, squared my shoulders again and zoomed back up. And this time I managed to remember to spread my arms, so I even looked like I was flying.

Landing turned out to be more of a challenge than I thought it would be. Several times I ended up tumbling ass over teakettle when my feet snagged in the grass, but with a little practice I found just the right angle to come down and hit the ground running. The city park turned out to be a much better place to land than in the street, although I did interrupt a Frisbee game once. After offering my apologies I flew away and they carried on, not at all surprised that a flying man dropped right into the middle of their game.

Before I quit for the day I took an especially long running jump and flew as high as I could. I got so high that the cold air froze my breath to the ends of my eyelashes and, at that point, I thought it safest to come back down, but when I looked down I was so high I couldn’t tell where my neighborhood was. I couldn’t even tell where my continent was. It was getting awfully cold, though, so I swooped back down toward the first piece of ground I saw, closer and closer until I spotted what looked like Lake Monona and made a beeline for it.

It wasn’t Lake Monona, as it turned out. It was a frozen lake somewhere north of the Arctic Circle. Finland, I think, because I flew over what looked like Great Britain as I crossed lots and lots of water, probably the Atlantic Ocean, as I tried to find my way back home. I had to stop several times to ask somebody where I was, and two or three times they didn’t answer in a language I knew. When I finally ended up in New York I very carefully pointed myself west and jumped only high enough to eyeball the Great Lakes. After that, it was fairly easy to find my way, but up to that point I sure could have used an iPhone and Google Earth.

I ran into my coworker in the break room again the next day. How are you today? she asked. Nice day.

Nice day to go flying, I answered.

Oh, have you been flying? she asked. I had to stay in and wash clothes.

high | 6:48 am CDT
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