Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: Taking flight |

Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: Taking flight

Mari Katherine Raftopoulos

Whether the sun is setting behind a set of clouds, a mountainside, the edge of the Pacific Ocean or a very tall building, I have always been one to chase the sunset.

I will race anywhere to catch that final drop of sun, even knowing that there will be another one the next day.

In fact, it is one of my most favorite and cherished times.

In San Diego, no matter what I was doing, I would stop and catch every sunset I could. The location of where I saw the sunset wasn't always ideal, but it worked for the effect.

My roommates and I ran barefoot to the beach and watched patiently for the mysterious Green Flash that the locals talked about right when the sun set behind the water line.

We saw it a couple of times, or at least said we did so we could be true locals. Somehow, no matter how busy we were, we hardly ever left the sand until it was almost dark.

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A sunset is never guaranteed — there is no forecast or prediction as to if a sunset will provide a noteworthy showing or not, but it's worth waiting to find out.

Waiting is my favorite part.

At this time, you can see who really appreciates the time of day.

You'll see a couple on the first date, and the guy whose plan A, B and C is to watch the sunset, but forgot the wine, blanket and jacket. The couple won't be back, at least not together.

Then you have the diligent runner who feels inspired most at this time of day. You have the couple on their front porch, sipping porch wine as I like to call it, most likely a Pinot Grigio or crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and the older man who fishes off the dock every afternoon and never catches a fish or even a snag, but does it for the sunset.

I was recently watching the sunset from the window of a plane on an all-too-familiar flight.

"Boarding Denver to San Diego passengers," the flight attendant said over the intercom. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, graduations or just a weekend at home, this very flight has been an important part of my journey and growth.

While I have done my fair share of deep sleeping sessions during this route, believe me when I say that I have also accomplished some thinking.

This is partly because it is the only time that someone can get me to sit down for an extended period of time and clear my thoughts, and also because I love the feeling of being in flight and of knowing that when I land I just may be in an entirely different climate, culture and mindset.

All 2 hours and 25 minutes of this Denver to San Diego trip have been filled with many moments — it was the first time I ever saw the Pacific Ocean from a bird's-eye view when I was 12, and the longest flight of my life when I was homesick or lovesick.

The flight has even been educating, when I met a man who inspired me to look at my life in a different way and gave me his book so I never forgot, a lesson learned when I missed so many flights because of many nights out with the girls or a long conversation with an airport shoe shiner.

It was a blur when I had to return home to say my last goodbyes to my mother and at the same time welcoming when I went back to graduate.

And, of course, it has generated some of my favorite pieces of writing, all included with a glass of white wine and a window seat where the view is endless.

And now, it is just as memorable and familiar.

Although my taste of music has shifted slightly, my choice of clothing is a little bit different, the books I read and the magazines I skim are different, the feeling never changes.

Now, it has been almost a year since we wrapped up our four years in San Diego, and no matter where I go, how much I write about it or say it, I will never be able to let San Diego go, even down to the very flight that gets me there.

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