AT NINETEEN

A visual cocktail of my life now past. Transfixed. Lost in the clouds below. My stare goes way beyond where my eyes have stopped.

"Tea or coffee, sir?" and immediately I'm jolted back on board the Jumbo jet and, turning toward the stewardess with the feeling of power that besets every young jetsetter, I ask if she has any mineral water. Be careful, Peter ...... don't display any form of this jetset obstinance or people's greatest fears of the returning traveller will be fulfilled ...... he's changed! Egads! Mamma mia!

There's so much to do and not enough sleep within to get them done. A comedy is being shown on the in-flight film screen, or would I prefer to take in a little classical music on the internal music system. "Classical music?" I repeat through my mind; a screeching halt: When have I ever enjoyed listening to classical music? But, here I am at thirty thousand feet, travelling at some phenomenal speed toward Sydney and all of a sudden I'm considering listening to classical music. I think the tentacles of culture may have grasped a hold of me.

Taking a stroll down the aisle, I study the faces in their neat rows and, occasionally stopping my general scan, I take in a particular face or scene. I wonder where they've been, what their lives involve. Sure, some are businesspeople, but most of these people have stories of adventure to tell just as I do. I'm just dying to start conversation with someone. Back in my seat again I take a couple of pages of a magazine and, like a racing horse, my mind spears off, passing stone statues, the maoi's of Easter Island; a quick hurdle to the streets of Santiago, the gauchos of the Argentinian pampa and then as easy as the flicker of an eyelid, I'm lying beside a pool at the Hotel Maeva in Tahiti. The concert, those strange instruments, the breathy sounds of some piped instrument which had sent shivers up the back of my neck. Like a built-in slide show, I delve through my last six weeks, peering into scenes as if an observer, far removed from those past realities. Soon, oblivious to my flight and excitement, I'm asleep in a world equally as unreal as that from which I was returning.