I take off from LAX at twilight, totally sleep-deprived. The SCBWI Conference in LA was a blast, as usual. So many magic moments, all of them lasting until 2 or 3 in the morning. And now it’s time to settle into my seat and put on my headphones, turn up the music and lay my head back…and sleep. Right?
But I can’t. Because I’m a sunset magnet. I can’t not watch. Especially from an airplane. It’s the latest kind of sunset where the sky is an indigo and the ocean barely has any color left to it at all and the sunset-striped sky fills with reds, oranges, tangerines, golds, electric aquas, and a kind of purple that meets with the darkest of blackest blue sky. Orange lights glow in the colorless sea. In my half-awake state I think them rather large stars, sort of pointing the way. But, they aren’t stars. They are lights on off-shore oil rigs, just to the south of Santa Barbara. And the night is clear. Beautifully clear. And the colors of the sunset intensify. The off-shore-derreks march south as I fly up California’s coast. And the sea lights up in spots, literally. Tiny galaxies beneath the sea churn, glowing white, yellow, gold, reddish-orange and aqua. And I can’t believe my eyes. I put my nose against the plastic of the window and block out the light from the airplane’s cabin with my hands on either side of my face. I get a better look. It’s like I’m in a fairy tale. This can’t be real, but it is. The ocean glows in spots, some large some small some milky, all hug the coast. The lit up patches of sea float just south of Avila Beach and a bit north of San Luis Obispo. At first I think of The Red Tide, but it doesn’t look anything like The Red Tide. The glows are out at sea, not on the tide and are many different shades.
I pull out my notebook and write. Fast. I have to describe what I see. If not for the sunset, I would have missed the whole thing. It’s as if the sunset wants me to see this. Sunsets make me see lots of things I never would have seen otherwise.
I fall in love with the world from above. Just me and the sea and the 3/4 moon, fog flying in little ghost patches, peaking over mountaintops as we fly closer to Monterey, the sky all but black now. A few squid boats float close to shore, their bright lights pulse over the waves of Monterey Bay.
And, all of this, everything takes my breath away.