at the observation park
by Michelle Garren Flye

CHILDREN RACE arms spread wide down play runways as I watch a plane prepare to take off.

I’m with a large group but in that moment I’m alone. My heart rushes down the runway with the jetliner, faster and faster until it leaves the earth front wheels first and the engines scream and even where I’m standing, hundreds of yards away, I feel the whoosh of warm air stir the tranquil spring day. Freedom.

“Mommy!” a voice cries and another plane circles to land. Wheels touch down, the solid metal beast bounces, then settles back to earth. My three-year-old son runs screaming with his friends, arms stretched out as he “zooms” through the air. Liberty.

I smile as I sit down with my friends, the only one without an infant in my arms. When I was young, I was convinced I would actually fly like an airplane if I could only run far enough and fast enough. It never worked. I remained as landbound as my son does now. Limitations.

Time to leave. We bid farewell to friends and drive away in an SUV. My son is tired and quiet in the backseat as we turn onto the Interstate. Just before he falls asleep, I see him smile in the rearview mirror. “I love you, Mommy.” The engine of the SUV hums, not as fast as a jet plane; we’ll never achieve liftoff. But my heart has wings as I turn up the radio and sing along. Choices.

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