My Life in Planes

January 14th, 2010

I watched Up in the Air last night with my Mom. I realized that it is strangely like my life at times. The man in George Clooney’s character didn’t even know how to answer the question, “Where are you from?” While sitting on the airplane, he hesitantly and slowly answered, “here.” He felt at home with the soft wafting of cheap airport food and bad lighting that lingers in airports, the things people hate about travelling. The stagnant smell of traveling, and with the hurried and stressed people lulling through airports, just wanted to get the plane ride over with to arrive at their destinations. Omaha, Detroit, Portland, Hawaii, Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, New York, the flashing terminal signs blink at you as you walk down the terminals. Everyone seems to be going somewhere infinitely cooler than you are.  I can relate. I am usually most content in airports, on air planes. Surrounded by people I do not know. I thrive on talking to new people, the complimentary beverages, the soaring through the air. Landing is always my favorite, though.

I am terribly efficient; packing is quick; slipping off easy non-tie shoes, oftentimes not wearing a belt, leaving jewelry and other things that may set off the detectors in my checked bags. I fold neatly, I prepare for easy flight. Don’t attract attention to myself, and pick the quick lines at the security check-points. Avoid families and older people. I am usually a savvy traveler. Unless I am flying to Europe. Then I get too carried away with making sure I am equipped with everything I could need, and tend to be overweight on my limit requirements. I have travelled at least twice a year by plane since I was 6 years old. At that point in my life, I was given a small pin, advertising whichever airline it was, and was escorted through the airports and sat in my appropriate seat by the nice flight attendants who double checked  to assure I knew how to properly fasten the seatbelt. I could even recite the safety information back to them in a sweet flight attendants voice as they double checked to make sure I knew how to fasten my seatbelt. By 12, I was still escorted, and still asked about the seatbelt. I smiled and nodded. After September 11th, my parents were not even allowed to walk my to my gates, I had to maneuver security alone, but it was okay because I had the routine down anyway and wasn’t phased.

I bring my iPod, which used to be a portable CD player, and then an mp3 player, or a book, and pass my airplane time quickly. Its comfortable, flying over the world is comfortable to me. Because I’ve grown up between two states anyway, its hard for me to claim a “home.” I went to school in Arizona until I was 17 and then from 17 to 26 I went to college in Colorado. Where AM I from? What is home anyway, the place I am most comfortable? Most content in life? That would be in Europe, when I am in Germany, I never want to go “home.” I rarely enjoy the flight back to the United States, because I never know when I’ll return again. Between flying between my two home states, I rarely feel much of a loss there either because I have a full, rounded life within the two. I have friends, and activities and comfort in both places. Everyone asks me if I am ready to, or looking forward to going home, but I never really know what to answer. “Home? Which home do you mean? Perhaps I am home already, and perhaps I am not looking forward to going back to the other home.” One is less stressful than the other, and in one I get extreme cases of nostalgia.

Airports are one place where people from all over the world gather, daily. Lots of times they are passing time waiting for planes to leave, so for the first time in a long time they are free of obligations and more open to chat. People are bored, and like to make conversation. Talking with random people, one can gain immense insight into strangers, for no reason, for there are no obligations from the conversations. If fact, you can talk an hour on the plane ride with the person sitting next to you, telling them personal things, without ever even exchanging a name. It’s a beautiful concept. I forget about where I’m flying, what i’m doing, and get absorbed in my plane time. For where ever I am going is different than where I came from, and ill be sleeping a bed I haven’t slept in in awhile that night, and that in itself is exciting.

But perhaps, my true home is in the air, between homes, where I’m neither obligated or tied down to any. I am not really anywhere, but up in the air.

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