I fly some. Not a lot, but some. Usually not very far and there has never been a passport involved. That will change someday, I’m confident. And hopefully on the other end there will be either insane sunsets and tropical breezes, or scones and Big Ben. I’m certainly not complaining. I will never complain about flying to New York, or Las Vegas, or to Lubbock where they have the…coziest….airport I have ever seen. Not when there is an amazing friend waiting 11 feet from the gate to pick you up. ( think I could have almost tapped her on the shoulder in the official waiting area from my seat on the plane.) Yes, I’ve become pretty adept at fitting magazines, books and gum in my purse, putting my license where I can grab it and strategically wearing slip on shoes.
OK, so I’ve also been known to be the harried and disorganized looking woman at the security gate that makes you roll your eyes and ask the person next to you, “do you think she’s ever flown before?” But I swear it’s not my fault. This belt is practically part of these pants. I wasn’t aware my knee brace is held together by something that looks like a scythe. I didn’t know you’re not allowed to have too much change in your wallet. Did you know that? I did not know that. But I found that out when the nice TSA lady had to put on a rubber glove to go through my change purse.
I know about the liquid thing, but I forget how often I have a bottle of water at the bottom of my gargantuan handbag. I don’t talk back or get snarky when they speak slowly to remind me that I cannot take that on the plane. I just apologize profusely and chuck it into the recycling bin left there for the adorably forgetful and oblivious. When we flew to San Diego for a conference last week, we saw a guy chug a liter of Diet Coke so he wouldn’t have to put it in that bin. A liter! Like the kind you take warm to a staff lunch or a picnic that you really didn’t have the energy to bake brownies for. He looked like he was going to throw up when he was done, so I secretly hoped he was not going to be sitting next to me.
While I may work hard at projecting the image that flying is a mundane exercise that one must endure to get somewhere cool, there is still the 5-year-old girl in there somewhere who finds the process pretty glamorous and cosmopolitan. Have you seen “Catch Me if You Can”? If you haven’t, you have to. It captures the golden age of air travel like nothing I’ve ever seen. Everyone’s wearing a hat, and the ladies have scarves, heels, and red lipstick. Pilots are suave and revered and, as you will find out by watching this movie, can get away with anything. And going to the airport was a big deal.
I nonchalantly hook myself up to the airport wi-fi as if I do it every day, but in the inside I am high-fiving myself. I’m trying hard not to hop onto Facebook to update, “I’m at the airport! Me! At the airport!” or “Guess who I just ran into at the airport!” or “Wow, the airport is crazy today!”
John also looks nonchalant from the outside, but I think he feels that way for real. Like many of you, he has about a gazillion miles logged. He’s traveled on one of the longest flights on Earth multiple times. (I said a gazillion for emphasis, but when I said one of the longest flights on Earth, I was being serious – JFK-Johannesburg.) As adept as I am at selecting, packing, and reading magazines, he’s actually honed the art of sitting and staring. He can actually just zone out for sport. When we climbed on board the short jaunt to San Diego however, his eyes lit up when he spotted a new issue of Sky Mall. He may have, under his breath, referred to it as his favorite periodical.
There are many of you who fit into this obscenely well-traveled category…who fly weekly or monthly, and to locales that I’ve never heard of. I know when it is such a regular part of your life, there is the inevitable drudgery of delays and cancellations and the person next to you who won’t stop talking (shockingly, that is NOT me – can you believe it? I am not an airplane talker!) The excitement must wear off, and you stop looking at everybody and wondering where they are going or where they have been. You probably have a favorite airport.
I do. Other than SFO, I would have to pick McCarran in Las Vegas and JFK in New York. Las Vegas purely for sociological research. This is the one airport on Earth where you can tell who is going and who is arriving just by looking at them; the faces full of hope and promise vs. the cloudy eyes that reflect defeat and a killer headache.
We landed in JFK on our first trip to New York. It smelled exactly how I imagined it to – It was utilitarian and kind of dirty and reminded me of that show Night Court that was on in the 80’s, and the old opening for Saturday Night Live where the city looked gritty, but exciting. Everybody at the baggage carousel seemed to be planted there for my benefit…the “Welcome to New York, F-you” package. The accents were almost as thick as the air, and I’ve never heard so much simultaneous swearing in my life. I tried to contain my traitorous giggle and keep my eyes down for they were surely full of wonder & delight and would quickly give me away as a non-New Yorker.
The last time John was at JFK he and a handful of adults had to usher 55 kids through customs on the way to Africa and as the last one through he was stopped for the full search which caused him to sprint to the plane only to make it to his seat as the doors were closing. SFO-San Diego with just your wife and a carry-on may not hold the same sense of challenge and adventure. Unless your wife has $11 dollars worth of dimes, a built in belt, half a bottle of Aquafina and a knee brace.
The jet-setting feeling of air travel goes away though when you are standing barefoot, arms in the air above your head in the full body scanner machine. Having your full body scanned (or body fully scanned – I don’t know which is less disturbing) while a bunch of barefoot strangers watch, does not feel very glamorous after all.