I've looked at clouds from both sides now
3 min read

I've looked at clouds from both sides now

Cloudscape as seen from an airplane flying high above them: like if sand dunes were made of rushing white water.

Yesterday, I was in Ottawa; then very briefly in Halifax; now I am in Glasgow. The day's been cool, damp, intermittently rainy; as I write this, the last light of a 10PM sunset soaks through lavender-grey clouds over a deep, abiding green.

The last time this happened something was terribly wrong. This time, the trip – to visit family, and attend this conference – has been planned for months, but all plans this year are vague haphazard star-wishing and tea-leaf-reading. I'd been dreading and longing for travel in roughly equal measure until Seventh Wave language ramped up in Ontario and the dread took over. Airports right now are horror shows of staff shortages, cancelled flights, lost baggage, overbooked hotels and attempts to sleep on a patch of terminal floor; every sequence of travel photos on my social media feeds seems to end with a rapid test showing proof of covid positivity. I found myself asking Stu if we were just committing to getting covid now, if we had to think of it this way, having taken every possible precaution within our control except not boarding our first flight since March 2020.

Selfie depicting a very startled-looking me wearing a black KN94 mask, a Parrish relics hummingbird pendant with a pearl drop, and my dark brown hair up in a bun surrounded by a grey velvet scrunchie. Behind me are the check-in counters for Westjet at the Ottawa International Airport.

But against all odds our journey here was all right (though of course whether or not we get sick remains an open question). We arrived to the airport 3 hours early; our flights weren't delayed more than 20-ish minutes each; the flights themselves were peaceful. The moment a plane takes off into the air has always been one of wild, immense joy to me, and feeling that rumble and that lift after so long was a quiet ecstasy – as was seeing, and photographing, the sunset from the sky, its own commonplace love language now made so precious and so rare. I kept hearing Joni Mitchell in my head, looking at the tops of clouds and feeling how much I'd missed the sight.

A sunset sky over the coastal edges of Nova Scotia, the water catching some of the fading light.

It was surreal to spend twelve hours in airports with mask mandates only to emerge into one without any, but once we glimpsed Stu's dad at arrivals everything came into a kind of alignment. We were really here. We are really here. I keep noticing it, and pausing, and brimming over with it, and the dread has, for now, utterly seeped away into the reality of loving reunion, of shared food, of gardens.

Close-up on a full-blown pink rose among its thorns and leaves, all delicately studded with small drops of rain.

Stu and I went for a long walk this afternoon, through beautiful woodland and meadows in what is ostensibly a suburb, but looks so different from what that word means to me in a Canadian context. I've seen bullfinches and magpies and carrion crows, tits and chickadees, a sweet bold robin, raucous herring gulls, and the thrillingly sinister blood-red faces of European goldfinches.

It's so good to be here. I loved a nettle for stinging me.  

A dirt path through a small woodland. The path is bordered on either side by very tall stinging nettles.

Wishing you a deep, long, refreshing weekend that opens up like a path into the rest of the month,

Amal


Postscripts:

  • I finished a short story, and it was accepted for the anthology I wrote it for! Wild! More on that soon!
  • My friend Gregory Wilson is running a Kickstarter! It has 7 days left and a ways to go before reaching its goal to fund the publication of "a dark fantasy trilogy and a 5E-powered RPG based on The Gray Assassin world." Greg also runs the Adventures in Middle-earth campaign that I've been part of for... Wow, almost 5 years, so while I'm not familiar with the ins and outs of this specific project, I can't help but imagine Greg's sensitivity, kindness and generosity as a game master will be assets here, and I'd love to see this project succeed.
  • It is truly incredible to be back in the UK at this specific moment in time. Stu and I saw the following during our walk and I just want to co-sign its statement of values if not its poor depiction of proper masking.

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