Thursday, May 28

aerial sunsets

have I mentioned how much I love airports?

this year, I have already been lucky enough to wander around in five different airports: Calgary, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City. the cool, open height of these places just sucks me in. I don't even care what cheap nonsense they're selling behind those garish neon signfronts. It's the people, all of them preoccupied with luggage and being on time and getting to the right place... do they notice the smooth consistency of the buzz in the air? do they all feel the same beautiful restlessness, the layers upon layers of delicate hope and excitement?

the only thing better than airports is the takeoff. the only thing better than that is a rollercoaster.

for the rest of the flight I doodle and read and eavesdrop. little shards of different conversations collect in my mind.

on tuesday, as the sunset ran away behind us, the flight attendants pointed out mount rainier, just off to the left, rising above the rumpled stratus like a king crowned with tufts of golden-white ephemeral glory. it was gorgeous.

airports and flying are becoming as iconic as beaches have been for me in the past. there is a placeless-ness about them--an unspecified inbetween-ness. like the edges of things that hide such magic in all the fairy tales, these are spots where anything can happen. sure, your ticket is stamped and finalized, your seat is reserved and your baggage checked, but there is such possibility.

so now all I need is to find a nice airport on a beach, with any luck connected to a few more airports on beaches. wouldn't that be perfect?


Marianne said...

i don't like airports...

Chris said...

Agreed about the inbetweenness. I don't like the frisking or the fretting over details or the long queues, but I like the feeling of intermediacy and the general weary buzz of all the other people who are going places. Usually we'll get a flight at some ridiculously early hour in the morning, so we'll be tired but pitched lucid by all the bright light and excitement of transition. An hour or two of surreal nomadic existence. It can be pretty dreamlike.

amelia said...

mhm. nobody can pin you down, nobody expects you to be anywhere. on the contrary, everyone expects you to be in transit, and so for a few moments you are absolutely free. no coordinates, no obligations. just randomness bumping up against other randomness in the long winding lines up to the metal detectors.

Chris said...

Well, I think you are kind of expected to get on the flight you booked. Likewise you are obligated to go through all the relevant procedures before they let you do that. Those long winding lines are queues, which by their very nature are deliberate rather than random. :P

So I wouldn't really call it 'free', but you're right--everyone is just passing through. And in the gaps in between, those brief moments where you get to sit with your luggage and your steaming hot drink and ponder it all, for all the queues and procedures, you can feel thrillingly shaken loose of sensible existence, temporarily left floating in all the excited noise and nowhere.

It's easy to see why some people might find it so soulsucking. But I like the paradoxical feel of disconnectedness. Maybe because it's still novel. If I did it all the time I might not.

amelia said...

hm. true.

i forget to use the word queue. nobody else uses it around here.

i guess that's what i meant though. you're only expected to be wandering through an airport, shoved into this oh so temporary system with a whole bunch of people from all over the place, all going different directions. so compared to other times, when you've got specific appointments and a day full of things to do, airports are little sandboxes of freedom.