Message in the Sky by Deb Anna

The other day, I was walking home from a friend’s house on a beautiful day. The cliche about L.A. is true — nobody walks, even when it’s just a few blocks, even though we’re all obsessed with exercise. Point is, this was an unusual thing to be doing.

While I was walking, I looked up in the sky and saw that a plane was writing a message. I became immediately transfixed. It looked like an x, followed by a y. I stopped and stared up above, desperate to know what the next letter was going to be. An l! x-y-l — what could it mean?

Suddenly, I was transported back to childhood, to maybe the first time I’d ever seen a plane write a message in the sky, a time where being outside on a beautiful day wasn’t unusual, a time before there were deadlines to meet and websites to update and Amazon book rankings to obsess over, a time when I could spend hours just looking up without being bored.

Back then, I used to think about how comfortable clouds must be. I’d imagine lounging on one, sinking into its many folds and feeling the cool breeze — despite how close I’d be to the sun, I was somehow convinced there would be a cool breeze — on my skin. I’ve always loved being out in the sun. Back in the seventies, before we knew so much about wrinkles and aging and melanoma, my mom and I would lie out and read together — she her 18th century English literature and me my Paul Zindel or Judy Blume or Paula Danziger. In short, I’m one of those people who doesn’t think seasonal affective disorder is an imaginary affliction and who strongly believes that one should sneak up to the nearest hotel pool and go swimming on any sunny day. But I still have my deadlines to meet and websites to update and Amazon rankings to obsess over so I mostly just feel that way but slog it out inside in front of the computer.

But back to that day. I felt somehow convinced that whatever was being written in the sky at that moment was an important message I needed to see, that it was somehow going to connect the child who used to stare at the sky and imagine lounging on a cloud to the adult who found herself too often too busy to enjoy the beautiful weather.

So I stayed and stared. And realized that the plane was writing Kyle XY for some show I’ve never watched and am never going to watch and that I needed to get better at differentiating between my K’s and X’s when it came to sky writing. I’m going to assume this message wasn’t deeply significant, just a TV network‘s creative marketing effort. But I still enjoyed being transported back several decades, if only for a few minutes, on that beautiful day.

And the one cloud on the horizon looked mighty comfortable, indeed.

4 Replies to “Message in the Sky by Deb Anna”

  1. A lovely “Ah, I remember it well” post, Anna. It was such fun to let imaginations drift away with clouds and clear blue skies, I hope children still take the time to look upward every now and then.

  2. I love it and thank you for reminding me about Paul Zindel and The Pigman — I loved that book and I’d forgotten all about it. Summer afternoons just sitting outside, laying in the grass and blowing dandelion seeds everywhere, watching planes fly overhead and wondering where they were going, staying gone all afternoon and hiking around all over without any adults wondering where we’d gone — sometimes you just need to lay in the grass and watch the clouds. The world would be a better place if everybody would do that now and then 🙂

  3. I loved The Pigman too- I had forgotten all about it just like Lisa. I have to re-read all of these. I just re-read The Phantom Tollbooth not that long ago and I adore that book

  4. I love looking at clouds with my children and trying to find shapes. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy being outside with them.

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