A Bittersweet Anniversary

Have you ever had a feeling, a tickling at the base of your brain, a twinge in the gut that means that there’s something that you’re supposed to realize, to remember, to be aware of, but for the life of you it’s just slipping away in the fog of confusion and stress? The knowledge that you’re sure there’s something that you should be having an “A-HA!” moment about, but instead your brain is just spinning like a kitten chasing its tail?

What am I forgetting? A birthday? A meeting? Some sort of deadline?

Not necessarily a “sense of impending doom,” but rather a void, a memory that got forgotten before it could be remembered?

Something about the date. April 4th. Oh-four, oh-four.

Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky…

No, that’s not it, but we’re on the right track. I know that’s today, but this is more personal.

Finally…

On my desk I have a digital picture frame that scrolls through a couple thousand favorite pictures every day. I miss about 90% of them because I’m busy, but it’s okay because they’ll roll back around in a few hours. But I happened to look up at this one.

Ah. Yes. Four-four.

But that didn’t seem to be all of it. So I looked up the file.

April 4th. 2009. Ten years ago today.

I had been out on the tarmac alone, tying down the aircraft and finishing up the routines following the flight. But I wanted to just be doing a happy dance and had no one to share it with. Some poor stranger wandered by and I grabbed him and asked if he could take the picture for me. He was gracious enough to accommodate me.

That paper? That the FAA certificate that says that I had passed my check ride. I was now officially a pilot.

That was one of the best days of my life, a memory that no one will ever take from me. Not on a par with the birth of my kids or my wedding day, but as far as personal accomplishments go, it’s up there with graduation days, finishing marathons, arriving in Europe or Asia for the first time…

Why is it bittersweet? Because things changed, and no matter how much I want to be in the left seat “up there going somewhere,” the fact is that I was only an active pilot for a little over thirty months after this picture was taken. It’s been over 7 1/2 years since I’ve flown, and barring another drastic change for the better, it’s unlikely to happen again soon. Despite the fact that I spend an inordinate amount of time hanging around planes on the weekends with my CAF gig.

So, thanks, subconscious! There’s no doubt that’s an important one and I guess I’m glad that it didn’t go by unnoticed and unheralded – but maybe I could have passed on this one.

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Filed under Flying, Paul, Photography

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