Saturday, May 29, 2010

(Maddie) Up In The Air

A few days have passed since my high-flying hijinx on Thursday, so it time to post about air travel!

I woke up at 6:30AM on Thursday. Everything was packed. Nothing left to do but to eat breakfast and get ready. I have waiting for an adventure to begin. It reminds me of the somewhat boring stretch of time between the last class of the semester and the end of the year--nothing but studying [for some of us] and finals. Since your routine schedule of homework and class is disrupted, you don't quite know what to do with yourself. When you wait for a trip to start, there is a space between the end of your preparation and the actual start of the journey. But, soon enough, I was at the airport, wading through baggage check, congested TSA checkpoints, and what seemed ot be miles of domestic gates. I was there two hours in advance and observed that the majority of my fellow passengers in the first leg of my trip were geriatrics bound for warmer climates that are far more hospitable to their aches and pains than the ups and down of Northern climates.

Two hours and one sandwich later, I boarded the plane to Phoenix and found that I had an entire row of seats to myself! SCORE! The four-and-a-half hour flight consisted of dozing off, head resting on arm, in a chair that would not fold back into a comfortable position. Occasionally, I looked down at the world below. It was amazing to see clouds from above rather than below. They looked like the Platonic form of clouds - puffy, white cotton balls. I desperately wanted to stand on one, like Mary Poppins waiting for her next assignment as nanny to a family in need. But, it was strange to fly over places I had only ever seen on TV and never get an up close view. The flight took us over Lake Michigan, Kansas, two snow-covered mountain ranges, deserts, and several canyons. We went over checkerboard farmland, flatter-than-a-pancake plains states, tightly-packed clusters of cities and towns, winding ribbons of rivers, and shadows of clouds on the landscape. As we flew over myriad Midwestern towns, Film Composer Hugo Friedhoffer's Boon City theme from Director William Wyler's "The Best Years of Our Lives" ran through my head, taking me back into dreamland.

I have to admit, I like the takeoff and landing part of flying. But, in the end, I still prefer driving to a location. Every summer, i drove with my parents to New England. I saw so much "up close," particularly the Mohawk River Valley of upstate New York and the Appalachian and Berkshire mountain ranges in the morning. When you look out of a plane window, the landscape below looks like one of those Google satellite images. It is so impersonal, yet still exhilarating to see everything from a bird's eye view.

The first four-hour leg of my journey was ahead of schedule, so I ended up boiling in the "air-conditioned" Phoenix airport for two hours. As I waited with my iced latte, I noticed how many "blonde" girls with skinny jeans, stilettos, gigantic purses that could easily house third world families in them, and iPhones were joining me on my flight. There were at least four of them. Most of those heading to L.A. were texting up a storm on their cell phones, including an eight-year-old who thought and acted like she was twenty-one. Another major humanoid trend appeared in the form of large Asian families with incredibly well-behaved children. After we boarded the plane, I found myself next to a guy named Tony who happened to be a good graphics artist. We talked for the entire hour and a half flight about how selfish modern parents prefer to distract their children with technology rather than being involved in their children's lives. Before I knew it, I was in LAX baggage claim waiting for my ride.

P.S. My baggage was not sacrificed to the airport gods:)

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