Wheels Up DC | Blaise
As a “dutiful”daughter or someone who finds affirmation in words, I have made sure to carry on my father's tradition and use his phrase as the catalyst for my own adventures.
The picture of Washington D.C that you see above is from a couple of days before my flight to Beijing - it so beautifully visualizes the home that I am going to be away from, miss, and sometimes long for.
On the plane, I remember staring at this picture and returning to the moment when I captured it: mid-run, out of breath, sweaty, but incredibly astounded by the night’s sunset. Back on the plane, I remember returning from the memory, noting the rumble of the plane engine, and falling into acalm, dreamlike, jet-set state; destination: China.
On our way across the ocean, I occupied myself with a random assortment of activities that easily distracted me from the adventures ahead. During those twelve hours, I remember laughing at Forrest Gump’s oddities, wondering about the computerized red hair in the Pixar movie Brave, and falling asleep in a movie that starred Ryan Gosling (still a bit bummed about that) — all rather than worrying. Although - and I am not quite sure when - at some point during the flight, I remember eating some pretty good plane pasta and biting into the corner of a bitter brownie while thinking about my family.
I started to ponder what “let’s have a safe trip” means to me and to my family. From what I have concluded, the phrase doesn't just mean “let’s hope that we don’t have to strap on some life vests or prevent altitude sickness.” It also implies “let's make sure we have thought everything through so that we can guarantee we have a safe trip.”
When planning for our move, I knew that a lot of variables had to be balanced : budget, personalities, and transition. The thought of so many variables made me worried. It’s hard to boil down my planning process, but most of my ideas come from old family-friend connections. My first idea was traveling to Beijing - a pit stop before Tokyo - not only to see the Great Wall or Tiananmen square, but also to meet the Harker family.
For a little bit of context, my family was posted in Belgrade, Serbia from 2009-2011 under the State Department. During our stay I met one of my best friends, Riena Harker - a joke-loving, violin-fanatic friend whom I have kept in touch with for years. After Serbia, Riena moved to Beijing, China with her family- a destination that I had the opportunity to visit during my senior year. I stayed in contact with Riena's family (Brad, Megumi and Bethany) following my visit - andtwo short years later, I found myself emailing them once more; this time about my group’s collective interest and enthusiasm for visiting the Great Wall.
I hoped for a lot of things during our stay in Beijing, China. I hoped to give my project-mates the opportunity to see the many sights in China, and try hot-pot, but also be able to meet a family that has moved around the world and absorb their experiences, knowledge and insights about living in another country.
From the accounts of our experience, the weekend worked out better than we had ever expected. Brad and Megumi, both JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program) alumni, gave us ideas for places to travel, sights to see, and food to try. They boosted our confidence about climbing Mt. Fuji and dropped us off at PEKfull from home cooked meals, rested and ready for our own adventure.
One of the reasons why I felt at ease on the plane is because I am a logistics fiend —someone who likes to draw out the plans for a bridge between two different places and people and confidently walk across having known that the design and construction will suffice.
Although Hainan Airways was our bridge, and the Harker family supported our foundation, I felt proud to be part of the development of a wonderful memory… and most importantly... to have a safe trip ahead.