Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The first time I went anywhere by airplane was in August of 2002 when I went to Chicago for a week. We never went on vacations when I was a kid, and since the vast majority of my family lived within 2 hours, there was no one to go visit. My trip to New York the year before (July 2001) had been by car, and so I was thrilled to finally be flying somewhere.
Our reasons for going to Chicago are trivial now, though they were so important then: we were thinking about moving there, and so I wanted to look at the Art Institute and Pete wanted to revisit old college haunts and friends. (Plus, we really needed a vacation.) Ultimately, we could have gone anywhere, so long as it was by plane.
I wish I could say, after all this building up, that I realized something, had some sort of airborne epiphany. But I didn't. (That's not strictly true...I had any number of epiphanies, but they all related to Pete's need to be constantly entertained, but that's not relevant or interesting.) We left from Orlando and passed through security with only a quick stop for my unshaven compatriot. The airplane was smaller than I had imagined, the seats more cramped.
It was not an interesting trip, although it was the one that started my deep and abiding love for airports. But there was a moment, turning into the city, when my side of the plane was tilted, facing down at the water. The color of that lake and the color of the sky were the exact same shade of blue, and I couldn't figure out where one left off and the other began. I tweaked for a minute, but then relaxed and, face pressed to the window, let myself be taken by the absolute disorientation, the complete loss of gravity cues and personal history. It was at that moment, floating like a fetus in a vast expanse of nothing, that I decided I'd rather be everywhere else except for Florida, and that I was leaving in April come hell or high water. I didn't want to be stuck in anyone's land.

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