24 October 2010 – leaving Svalbard

We’re barred from the mountains by big airport windows; they rest in blue-grey light, the full moon is risen above them, and the snow coats them thickly. At the other end of the departure hall, the mountains are very near, and the plane waits for us on grey tarmac. In between are soft-drinks and sandwiches, plastic chairs, and departing travellers with boarding passes and heavy coats draped over carry-on. There are no real goodbyes, because we are all on the same flight; but we’re scattered throughout the plane, all picking our bags up in different places, all going to different places.

And in the sky, there are fjords, deep grey-blue, and mountains, black-white, and clouds right up to their edges, and only above the clouds is the sun a fiery gold blob, and the higher we get, the higher the sun, until there is only cloud and sun and golden reflection, and I pull the shade down because I know enough, have seen enough. There is now only the transfer of being from this state to the next; the luggage on a cart in Tromsø, the passport control or the mysterious absence of passport control. And a day to myself in a new city, before the return across the planet, to home. Meanwhile, the windows are speckled with pinpoints of ice.