Sunday, August 20, 2006

Magical Thinking

I do not travel much. Home is a good place with gorgeous surroundings, a lot of fun activities to do, and a bed-pillow-cat combination that is unbeatable. Plus the bathrooms are always clean.

Growing up, I travelled extensively. I loved the tension in the pit of my stomach that only happened when taking off in an airplane. I revelled in the sensory rush of emerging into a different climate and culture than the one I left hours ago. I appreciated the order and organization behind the way that airports work. People love to complain about airports, but have you ever sat in traffic on the 405 and watched the choreography of one massive jet after another, lining up for miles across the Inland Empire, approaching the landing strips at LAX? Such precision! And then most of those people find their luggage on the carousels in baggage claim. From a teacher's point of view, it is nearly epiphanous to imagine thousands and thousands of people with assigned seats, most of whom have their supplies, following directions most of the time. . .

A couple of weeks ago, I got on a plane for the first time in ten years. Busyness, expense, spoiled pets, enjoyment of my real life had made travel less than essential, and before I knew it, a decade had gone by and I hadn't even left the state. But d and I decided to very uncharacteristically spend our retroactive raises on a trip to Hawaii. It was gorgeous. The water was warm. The coconut syrup was as delicious as I remembered. We went to the North Shore, hiked to Manoa Falls, drove around the island and hung out at every beach that caught our attention, and heard enough Hawaiian music that if someone plays a ukulele anytime in my near future, I will stab myself in the eyes with a plastic fork.

Then, the day we flew back to LAX, people in Great Britain discovered that terrorists have graduated from playing on monkey bars to watching reruns of MacGyver, and now know how to make bombs out of Axe body spray and lip gloss, apparently. So people in the airport shuttle were talking about bombs, and there were signs all over the airport about bombs, and I couldn't help thinking a little about bombs and planes exploding in midair. The guy in front of us in line to board the plane looked, how shall I say? Suspicious? A little shifty? A little preoccupied by thoughts of twenty-seven virgins in the afterlife, perhaps? His wedding ring didn't throw me off at all. What an easy prop! I took note of all the kids on board the plane as I walked to my seat. Surely a plane with this many little kids wouldn't blow up, right? The universe had to be more kind than that. . . I slept a little. The kids cried a lot. Then I got sucked into an inflight movie in which Antonio Banderas tries to teach kids from the 'hood to dance (who wins the competition? I don't think I can watch the entire movie again just to find that out). The movie was turned off early because we landed. As in, the plane did NOT blow up. Which is good.

So. Travel is good. It's nice to see other places. Skinny guys in line at the airport are not necessarily terrorists. And if enough kids are on board, you'll have a safe trip, I think. . . .


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