I stare at plastic airport decor. Around me, interchangeable people swirl,
eddy, stick for a moment and then are caught up again in the current. They
are people you do not meet in airports all over the world.
A couple hides their fear of the upcoming flight. They leave joking
voice-mails for their family: 'if I don't make it....'. Then they can phone
no more - their battery is flat. They float away to a pay phone.
An attractive brunette wearing a light pink silk dress flows by but is
caught in an eddy. While I watch, she fiddles with papers in a brief case
and then darts away.
A fat woman wearing a blue sail, belted at the waist, pushes obstacles out
of her way. She lodges between and spreads herself over several chairs.
Slurping translucent fluid from a plastic bottle, she heaves free of the
chairs and gently bobs away.
Air conditioning hums. Planes take off and land. People come and go. Nobody
is really there... They are all on the way.
As I board, a screen boldly displays:
flight 2802 to Seattle
Drinks only service
in white on dark blue. A two hour flight doesn't merit peanuts.
On the plane, I walk down the aisle, reading the little embossed letters
and numbers. Almost at the tail of the plane, I see 26F.. my seat! Ducking
in and about to sit down next to an attractive Asian couple, I see the arm
rest says 27F. Backing up one row, I see my close companion for the next
two hours. He has trisomy 21 - down syndrome. Quite a text book example -
he is holding his long, protruding tongue in stubby fingers in front of his
mongoloid face. I carefully squeeze past him and his mother to my window
Take off is spectacular... as always. Super-heated air is propelled faster
and faster through the squat engines on the wings. We begin to roll along
the tarmac. The plane vibrates. Lights and buildings rush past in more and
more of a blur. The noise rises to a whine. We bullet down the runway.
Suddenly, the nose of the plane is pointing upwards. At a moment almost
indistinguishable from the previous and the next, we are airborne.
Out the window, the world tilts and bucks. Snakes of amber light, marking
out highways, undulate and curl. The roofs of houses, adorned with gold
highlights, stretch to the edge of the bay. San Jose suburban sprawl has
never looked half so good as from 1200ft.
As dusk is replaced by blackness, we pierce a layer of gray, cotton wool
cloud. All that remains to be seen is the reflection of a young man,
wearing black and scribbling on a palm organiser.