Seeing the Clouds

It was early in the morning and the sky was still asleep.

Generally, I had two to three more hours of sleep. It was so early even the birds were asleep. Stretching my legs, I turned over and looked at the time: 4:02. At the ripe age of nine, I could not be too bothered by what was about to come. 

Mom walked in my room. She made sure my sister and I were awake, rubbed our heads, and gave soft kisses on our foreheads to slowly wake us up. 

“Good morninggggg,” she said. “Time to go to Floridaaaa.” My eyes felt heavy, but I was excited. 

I climbed out of my bed in the pitch dark. Luckily, I prepared my outfit the night before because no thinking was going on at 4 am. My morning routine was a typical one: I brushed my hair with my green apple scented detangling spray, then brushed my teeth as toothpaste ran down my face. Same shit, different day. (I swear I thought this, though never would have said it out loud.)

My airplane bag contained my iPod 4, my pastel pink DS, and some coloring supplies. My dad woke up at the crack ass of dawn, so he was already downstairs waiting to put our bags in the car. He put all our luggage in the car stacked perfectly in layers for easy grab and go to the airport. My dad is always on time, up early, he has had the same morning routine foreve. A few minutes later my grandpa showed up to drive us to the airport. 

“How you doing Shortie,” he said. 

“I’m good,” I said in a sleepy response. 

He always called me Shortie because I was so much taller than him. I had just beat him by a few inches recently. I gave him a hug and thanked him for driving us. Surprisingly, when he says Shortie to me in public, no one stares. 

We all got into the car, and began the drive to the airport. Heavy snow was on the ground. I could feel the brisk air on my cheeks. Just another depressing winter day in Buffalo, New York. 

I carried a dead stare on my face watching nothingness go by on the ride. My grandpa and my dad had their usual talks about directions and about my grandpa's new girlfriends. At the time, he was dating a lady who lived in Canada, her name was Holly. My poor mother sat in the back with my sister and me. Our little booties all squeezed together, as my mom would say.

Arriving at the airport, we pulled up along the sidewalk as cops yelled where to go and where to park. It annoyed me because they were screaming at my sweet, old grandpa. Getting out of the car, I gave him a big hug. You know that awkward feeling of waiting for everyone to hug, and everyone stares because they are in a rush? Yeah, I felt that. 

Inside the airport, it was filled. You could tell it was spring break. Mom was visibly overwhelmed dealing with two young children, all our belongings, and loads of paperwork. Dad just kind of stood in the way. 

We got in a line with the logo that read “Southwest Airlines” across the top. The smell of reusable air went through our noses. It felt like we were standing there for an eternity. 

We eventually got to the front of the line, and got our bags checked. I was standing awkwardly, confused about what to do. Again, Mom handled paperwork while Dad shuffled the purses and carry-ons. 

Eventually, my parents guided me to this thing called "security." We waited in another long line which made me understand why we had gotten there so early. Whipping out any electronics was a no-no. So, all I could do was sway and stare a little too long at some people in line. My mom started talking to the man in the security uniform. 

“Good morning!” she said almost anxiously. She was always bright and cheery in the morning, even at 4 am. 

He greeted us and took our boarding passes and my parents' licenses. He checked over everything, and we moved on to the security line. 

We were told to get in line and take all of our electronics out. I took note of how Dad grabbed things aggressively out of his bag.

Another security lady yelled, “Anyone over the age of 12 needs to take their shoes off!”

At this moment I honestly started questioning my age because everything was happening so fast. I began ripping my iPod and DS out of my bag and put them in a separate bin from the rest of my stuff, worrying something was going to happen to them. A security officer slid my bins down the line.

My mind was absolutely overwhelmed with what was going on. After we placed our things to get checked, my family and I waited in line to go through the walk-through metal detector. My dad went first. He stood in the little metal detector thing which suddenly went off. The officer told him it was his belt and he needed to take it off. I continued watching everyone around me, trying not to mess up. Soon enough, it was my turn. I placed my feet perfectly on the sticker feet on the floor. I stood and put my arms out. The light turned green. 

I went to grab my bag and saw a security officer holding it while looking at the screen. She looked at me a little funny and motioned for me.

“Is this your bag?” she asked me. 


“Do you have something in here that you can’t bring on the airplane?” she said. 

My mind began running. Did someone put a bomb in my bag? I don't even know what is and isn’t allowed. Why is this lady getting mad at me? I don’t mean to cause problems.


My hands began to sweat. 

The security officer began digging through my bag, At this point there were a few security guards standing around us. They seemed to be looking for some action in this stupid airport. Mom and Dad stared at me confused. 

After a few minutes she found what she was looking for. It was my giant green eraser with hot pink lettering that said “OMG!” on it. 

“Why did you bring this?” she asked me. “We thought it was a bomb of some sort.”

She put it back in and rolled her eyes.

We walked away and my parents started giggling. 

“Honey, why did you need to bring that giant eraser?” Mom said. 

“Because I need it to erase my drawings.” 

They continued to giggle. 

Who knew you couldn’t bring a giant eraser from Justice on an airplane?

As we walked on to the gate, so many stores with random perfumes, bags, and souvenirs caught my eye.

The airport was huge. I saw businessmen in suits, wearing earpieces. Women dressed up in high heels and lipstick. I was just in a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, so I felt a little bummy. 

Luckily, my parents got me and my sister a little early morning snack, starting with a medium iced capp and a chocolate chip muffin from Tim Horton’s. We had a little over an hour until we boarded, and time went slow. I kept walking around, laying down because I was antsy. I decided to play a game of Mario Kart on my DS to make time go faster. 

There was a beautiful sunrise I could see through the windows of the airport. Even though I couldn’t sit still, I could stop and look at it. Seeing that with all the planes landing and leaving was amazing. 

Finally, they called our group to board. 

I took a seat with my mom and sister while my dad sat alone. The flight attendants greeted us with big smiles on their faces. They began demonstrating how to fasten seat belts and what to do with the oxygen masks that apparently hang overhead.

Then it was time for lift-off. Mom smiled at me and clenched my hand hard. The plane began to make a loud sound and I flung back into my seat. We were zooming on the ground and then hit the air. My stomach dropped like I was on a rollercoaster. But Mom kept smiling at me to make it seem fun. I giggled from the butterflies in my tummy. My sister had this horrific look on her face, typical.

We continued to ascend higher and higher in the air and eventually reached clouds. It was beautiful. It was bright pink from the morning sun. My favorite color. The clouds looked so fluffy like pillows. The sun was rising and a tint of blue sky came through. 

How was the plane staying in the air and the flight attendants could walk around? And how there were toilets on planes? How cool!

The flight attendants began taking people's orders for drinks. I remembered Mom saying something earlier about how we got snacks. The flight attendant asked me, “Would you like something to drink, honey?”

“Diet Pepsi?”

“Of course!”

That was the only kind of pop I was allowed to have as a kid, but it was rare. It was a nice treat for me. She wrote my drink order down and continued down the aisle. 

As I waited, I stared out the window admiring the sky. My eyes felt heavy because it was still quite early. Slowly my eyes began to close. 

I woke up from someone speaking over the loudspeaker saying something. I looked down to an empty cup in front of me and realized that Mom drank my pop! I asked her what was going on and she said something about landing. 

It took a long time for everyone to single file out of the plane. It felt like kindergarten all over again. 

I grabbed my carry on and made my way down the aisle, dragging it behind me. The flight attendant said something to me, but I was way too focused on feeling that warm breeze as soon as you step out the plane. It felt like we had time traveled.

I don't think my airport experience was a typical one. After all, I got stopped by TSA...who thought I had a bomb. 

Nevertheless, I will always remember the first time truly seeing the clouds. 


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