Chapter 24: “...While I Kiss the Sky”

January 16, 1969

(United Airlines, Flight #266, on approach to Denver, Colorado)

Purple haze all in my brain

Lately things just don’t seem the same

Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why

‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky

– Jimi Hendrix, “Purple Haze”

I hate flying, especially when I’m going somewhere I don’t want to be. Last summer, it wasn’t so bad flying to California – somehow, the prospect of crashing to earth and becoming part of a smoldering heap doesn’t seem so likely when you’re going somewhere fun.

But I’m headed for Sioux City, in the dead of winter, my grandfather snoring next to me, my grandmother lying in wait for me at the Sioux City airport.

I can’t wait.

We’re approaching Denver – I hate landings the most – then we get to do it all over again where we’ll catch our connecting flight to Sioux City.

A nighttime flight.

Just get this bucket of bolts safely on the ground!

We’re flying in a figure 8, stacked somewhere over Denver, my stomach lurching, in sync with the winding and curving of the plane.

Why did I agree to this trip, anyway? I’m 18, for God’s sake, a woman now.

Though being 18 floats you in a no-man’s land of not-quite-adulthood, 18 to 20, a purgatory of conditional freedom: be good, get married, or fight in Vietnam, don’t make waves...Don’t drop acid and live with your drug-dealing boyfriend. Exile to Sioux City: my sentence for not conforming to Establishment rules. I was so naïve back in October, when I turned 18.

Enduring the entire afternoon with my family and their friends didn’t seem so bad: the reward of true adulthood awaiting me, a final shedding of parental rules.


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“While I Kiss the Sky…,” © copyright 2013 - present, by Jennifer Semple Siegel, may not be reprinted or reposted without the express permission of the author. Published in Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment


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