Speak to Me of Love and I Will Speak to You of Wings

Speak to me of love; I will speak to you of wings. The too-bright rising sun glinting on metal; sharp angles cutting through clouds; the mechanical sounds of a plane beginning its descent above a nighttime city. The long-distance lover is forever bound to flight, that most romantic of ideas. Love that exists outside of, or perhaps in-between time: those long hours where you sit, staring into clouds or darkness—perhaps music drifting into your ears which you do not hear, a book opened in your lap, words ignored. The only voice and image in your mind is that of the person who awaits you, the only one in a sea of others at the journey’s end. When you are in love, your senses are sharpened: you catch a familiar scent, hear the lilt of a distant voice, glimpse a half-hidden curve of a neck that can only belong to the one you have come so far for. YHZ, 1995: Standing outside in the icy Canadian air for a brief moment before walking back through the automatic doors into the artificial warmth, marvelling at a large pool of lobsters—then a whisper in my ear from behind, K’s hands turning me around.

When love is distant, all references to flight, both human-made and avian are a reminder: the boarding pass is both love letter and invitation; a lost feather is heavy with longing. And when the drone of engines start, we ascend with excitement only to descend in a passion that is higher than any altitude reached. In an earlier time, romance was still enough to delay flights, attendants moved to sympathy by lovers not given the chance to properly part. LAS, 1997: standing at my gate in tears, the last of the passengers long gone down the jet bridge as I waited for P. The attendant spoke quietly into something: a phone or a walkie-talkie; my eyes were too blurred to know. Then a cheerful Don’t worry honey, we’ve got you a couple more minutes, as P came running down the corridor accompanied by the faint musical sound of the ubiquitous slot machines, taking me in his arms and charming everyone by thanking them breathlessly in his English accent: it wouldn’t do to leave your fine country without saying goodbye to this one.

Relationships are reflected in airports: arrivals and departures, delays and cancellations. Pleading for alternative options, resigning themselves to staying put until there is a solution. Everywhere you look someone is at a different stage of love, travelling a different path to or from it. We walk leisurely and run frantically to make connections. We stop to buy tokens of affection: a perfect red lipstick in a black and gold case; perfume chosen after lingering over a seductive array of testers all beckoning to be applied; wine or whisky, bottles from all over the world lined up like planes from every country: Japan and Scotland, France and Italy. ORD to LHR, 1999: the scent of Gucci Rush—a floral, like full rain clouds ready to burst—heavy, soft and humid. A bottle of Talisker in a plastic bag beside me, the taste of smoke, peat and fog. A gin and tonic nervously untouched on a table, a slice of lime covered in effervescence, nudging the ice cubes that crowd it. A final call, restless flying through the night and into the early morning. Unsteadiness: plane legs—like sea legs, but for lovers. We run miles past numbers, letters and symbols of flight, climb into the sky, cross the globe. But for those in love, the destination is always the same: a pair of arms and a voice saying, You’re here.



Tomoé Hill’s reviews and essays can be found in Music & Literature3:AM MagazineLapsus LimaMinor Literature[s]We’ll Never Have Paris (Repeater Books), and Love Bites (Dostoyevsky Wannabe). She lives in London. 


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