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:

American Airlines 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 seat, 26F.

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.

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