a heart waits for her flight

Last autumn while learning to dance salsa, I met Leo. He founded a startup called flightSpeak because he believes airports should not be about steel and scanners, but about people--their sights, stories, and connections. He invited me for coffee and asked if I'd write an essay about flight. I loved the idea. Where will you fly next? Why will you go there? No, why will you REALLY go? This post originally appeared on Valentine's Day, at blog.flightSpeak.net. xo -Laura

No matter who we are or where we are going, I think we have the same reason for our flight. It is connection.
— Laura Lowery

Bump-bump, bump-bump. This exquisite organ pumps life force through our bodies and connects us to one another in unseen ways. 

Your heart can detect the pulse of other hearts around you and it begins to mimic them. Waves form with every beat, carrying information from one heart to another. Most of the time, without even realizing it, we are talking and listening with our hearts.

While lovers buy roses, I am preparing for a different kind of heart connection. It started when I met my high school crush at our reunion in Oregon. He had followed the pulse of his ancestors and gone to live among the Sioux on the Great Plains.

I asked if I could come for a visit and capture photographs for a story in Lucia (following my own heart led me to return to my Pacific Northwest origins and create this magazine). He offered to introduce me to his community’s leaders. “They are all Grandmothers,” he said. He wrote the word with a capital G.

Now I am dreaming of a flight to the heart of the continent, leaving Seattle’s steel buildings and city sounds for Painted Hills and the vast, rich silence of Dakota prairie—something deep in my psyche yearns to meet these Lakota Grandmothers.

Native American blood flows through my veins too, sloshing with genes of Icelanders and Europeans. My father’s great-grandmother was Cherokee, orphaned on the Trail of Tears. She gave birth to sixteen children. My great-grandfather was her youngest. I want to know, better, who she was.

I do not have a photograph of her, or any other direct connection to draw from. Perhaps this sentimental desire to fly halfway across the country and meet Native women to whom I have no direct connection is really my heart’s way of seeking to unravel one more knot in the mystery. We all have mysteries, don’t we? How deep do your roots go?

No matter who we are or where we are going, I think we have the same reason for our flight. It is connection. We make sense of our world, and the people in it, through our bodies. We must see them with our own eyes, hear their songs with our own ears, sit beside them to eat. We must sense the cadence of their pulse with our own hearts. This is how we come to know one another. This is how we come to know ourselves. This is why we fly.

The heart is the great connector. Perhaps we will be next to each other at the airport while I wait for a flight to Denver, or on the way to a Rapid City connection. You will know me by my pulse beat (bump-bump, bump-bump) and because I will want to hear your heart’s story, too.

{Visit flightSpeak for more airport inspiration...}