today's rerun: for the concorde
Ed. note: I wrote this back in June, when they first decided that the Concorde had outlived its usefulness. Today, the Concorde makes its last flight, so I thought I would re-post this.
Watching the Concorde was a ritual for Natalie and I, when she was younger and impressed by such things. We would wait every morning for the tell-tale rumble, the slight shaking of the ground. We always felt and heard the jet minutes before it would appear in the sky like a futuristic bird.
As the rumble grew louder and nearer, Natalie would yell excitedly "It's coming mommy! It's coming!" Outside we would go, necks craned, eyes upward, waiting for our glimpse at the wonders of modern aviation.
Natalie fancied the Concorde to be the ultimate in travel. She would save any money she got for birthdays or holidays, put it away in a coffee can and tell anyone who would listen that she was saving up so she could take a trip on the Concorde.
The awe was not just my child's; it was mine as well. The sleek shape of the jet, the way in which it cut through the sky like a rocket, the noise and tremors it caused all took my breath away. How far techonolgy had come, I thought, to create something so beautiful, so powerful. Not many people can see beauty in a plane, I know. But there was something about the Concorde that made me view it as if it were art. The downward nose and the outstretched wings and yes, the idea that there were rich, important people flying in that piece of modern art certainly gave it part of its appeal.
Until 9/11, I considered it a privilege to live so close to an airport, to be able to see the beauty and grace of air flight up close every day. I didn't mind the noise levels or the occasional rattle of my dishes; I was lucky to be able to lay on my lawn and look skyward, watching the landing gear emerge from the belly of the plane. Sometimes the planes would fly so low that I imagined the people on board could see me; when I was a child I often waved to the passengers.
That joy of watching airplanes is slowly coming back. The fear of them has dissipated a bit in the 19 months since 9/11. Sometimes, when the flight pattern changes due to bad weather and the jets scream so low over my roof that the kids playing football on the lawn stop in mid-play, worried looks on their faces, I still get nervous. But mostly, I am back to feeling privileged at my ability to step outside and see the glory of air travel every day, almost up close.
I will miss the approach of the Concorde and that starstruck feeling that surged through me every time it graced my presence. But I'll always have those moments to remember, when Natalie held tight to my arm as the jet neared, giddy with anticipation.
So long, Concorde. Thanks for the memories.