Just Like In The Movies (New York)

It's quite hard to take pictures from inside a landing plane. 

It's quite hard to take pictures from inside a landing plane. 

I know how this part is supposed to go.

A fragment of rainbow passes by the window, as the plane descends through cloud. On the screen in front of me, my in-flight movie (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) has been paused. Instead, the screen is now showing a comically large cartoon aeroplane passing over a comically small cartoon map of America, while the pilot chirps over the intercom about preparing to land at JFK.

You’ll notice I said the window, not my window.

I am sitting in the middle isle on the starboard side of the airplane; there is another person between me and the nearest window. She is a lovely, friendly Canadian artist travelling to America to put some work in a gallery. She has sharp eyes and raven hair, and right now I hate her with the fire of a thousand suns.

I know how this part is supposed to go. If this was a movie (if it were my movie, as we are all occasionally guilty of wishing), I would be sitting by the window, watching New York come into sight with wistful awe. Instead, I am left fidgeting for glimpses as the plane tilts and dips and drops toward its destination.

Clouds resolve into grey ocean. There is a distant black blotch on the horizon; a boat fading into view, followed by another, followed by another; the granite sea suddenly crowded with dark shapes. I strain toward the window as best I can, and see an orange band rip across the slate coloured sky.

Shafts of gentle flame are falling through the clouds, raking over the coast below--lighting up a city that’s sprawled across islands. Most of the islands are crowded with houses, with tower blocks standing up between the tiny homes like upright Lego bricks. Bridges spring between the islands, busy with lines of roving traffic.

The skyline has become the looming metropolis of Manhattan--a platoon of skyscrapers set dark against their orange backlight, divas showing off. 

The plane skates down, touching the runaway. It turns to find a berth, and my view is replaced by the tarmac of the airport. No longer in the sky, reality must assert.

Everything looks better from above. It can't be like that on the ground.

That was New York.

Just like in the movies.