I’m typing this on my balcony. It’s almost dark out. I can’t see the sunset from here but I can tell by the dark blue of the cloudless sky that it’s just slipped past the horizon. I had to wrap myself in a cozy cardigan because even though it is August, this summer just hasn’t been kind: it was 8°C (46F) last night. It is chilly and dark out here but I can’t seem to move.

I put my book aside only moments ago; I read until my eyes couldn’t find the letters on the darkened pages anymore. There are no bugs or mosquitoes here, even by the light of my laptop screen; an unexpected convenience of city life.

I hear crickets and wind rustling in the trees, but mostly traffic noises – from the two big national highways and the railroad line that, together, form an almost perfect triangle around where I live. And yet, it’s a peaceful Saturday night. To me, now, right here, it is a quiet night. The traffic noises are so much part of this place, I forget what real quiet is; how deadly silent a night out in the country can be.

I hear the planes. I can see them, too. The airport is but 12 minutes away by car. When they cross the sky above my home, they are already flying low, approaching for landing, zeroing in on the runway lights. They’re mostly commercial planes – Germanwings, easyJet, AirBerlin – transporting people around Germany, Europe and Northern Africa. Sometimes I spot cargo planes; their body and wings look different, FedEx is printed on the side in giant letters. After sunset I follow their blinking lights across the infinite indigo; bright white in front and back, a red one on each side. I can see the planes long before I hear them but it’s the sound of the engines, so distinct and powerful, that gets me every time. I love living so close to an airport more than I can say. Each plane sparks my imagination and my passion for travel.

The book about Afghanistan is really good, by the way. It has, among other things, made me want to write again, and write better.


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