Sunday, August 3, 2008

Angels, Blue and Otherwise


Seafair is an event that happens every year in the Seattle area, amidst frenzied TV promotion and huge traffic interruptions on the bridges that thread the population together over Lake Washington. It began over 50 years ago with a few wealthy people racing speedboats powered by gigantic airplane engines at the south end of the lake. Now it's totally commercial, with hydroplanes owned by sponsors like Oberto Sausage and Budweiser (which, I'm told, when ingested together constitute the breakfast of true champions.)

I've lived here 19 years and have never been to Seafair. Friday was a the "free day" at the event--which seemed tantamount to an exclusive invitation for us unemployed folks. I decided to check out the one event that appeals to me: the performance of the Blue Angels.

I don't know what it is about fighter planes screaming out of the sky, climbing, falling, turning, and flying with wingtips 18" apart that I find so thrilling. Part of it is just that I love airplanes and flying. Especially flights by military pilots. Many years ago I was a flight attendant on a charter airline that flew worldwide. All our pilots were former military, and those guys could fly into and out of anything. They could take off and land in weather and at airports that made scheduled airlines tremble. They were gods in the air. On the ground, not so much. (But that's another story.) Although I tend to hate crowds, buses, and too much sun, I decided it was worth whatever I had to do to see the Blue Angels perform directly over my head.

I rode the bus two hours each way (no parking nearby--it's a neighborhood, not an amusement park), and walked two miles to the lake's edge (because the highly-touted shuttle bus turned out to be non-existent.) I stumbled along, clutching my heavy lunch and picnic blanket in my non-muscular arms. Despite my current status as a pasty couch potato, I sat in the sun until I was burned enough to stay warm in the Arctic without a jacket. Let it be said that Young Geezer (who has been rebuffed for suggesting activities that weren't a fraction as rigorous as this) was at work, and would have laughed hysterically if anyone had tried to tell him where his sedentary wife was and what she was doing.

Yeah, it was grueling. I was stiff and I couldn't straighten my arms the whole next day. But the sky was blue, the breeze perfect, and the performance was magnificent. I would do it again in a heartbeat to feel that thrill. Maybe I would wear different shoes and carry less stuff. Maybe I would use more sunscreen. But I would definitely do it.

I'll also ride the bus again, soon. I experienced something I don't experience in my car: people. I saw young men in gangsta garb help a blind woman--without being asked. I chatted with people from different parts of the world whose paths I would never cross in a usual day. I asked a couple of preteen boys to give up their seats for two elderly men who boarded in the International District. They fell all over themselves to give up their seats. They just hadn't thought of it themselves, that's all. I've heard it said that there are angels all around us. It sure seemed true that day.
What an amazing world. I think I need to consider getting those clunky walking shoes I've been avoiding, and getting out more. Maybe it's even time to buy a bus pass.

(I apologize in advance to everyone who gets stuck behind my slow-moving self on the bus steps, or when I ask the bus driver questions. Hey, I might not be bus savvy--but I can tell you some great stories about former military pilots, if you're interested!)


1 comment:

cinderelly said...

i love those noisy jets!