The difference between home and away is that away, the only familiar thing distracting you is your own mind. Until away gains normalcy, you wait, listening, and so your hearing seems more acute. You hear yourself, who you were and who you are and the disparity between expectation and reality. The older you get, the sharper the disparity seems; the young take for granted the “orgiastic future” that recedes line by line into the distant horizon, which is why they throw themselves towards it with such abandon. Older people have learned comfort and impatience; they have learned cynicism from bad decisions and caution from the hand of fate and responsibility, or at least the threat of it, from overdue credit cards.

But some continue, particularly if they have always been careful, to suspend themselves in the unknown. They travel and choose not to be wearied by it; they somehow retain the glamour that is usually there only in the minds of observers. They smile at how the world shrinks. How the names on their itineraries — Los Angeles, San Antonio, Portland — are less places unto themselves than they are worlds apart, a series of squares on a board game, an alternate reality linked by a few hours of boredom and lightheadedness. They ask other travelers if they know the talking fountain in Seattle? The Hilton lobby in Chicago? How flat Denver looks as you come in? The boring pre-check-in lounge at LAX?

High above the earth, trapped in a tiny space and sipping tomato juice, they consider the quiet space between their ears. They theorize. They remember all the places they love, or loved once, one evening, with friends new and old, and the nameless charm they found in being so transitory, itinerant.

One thought on “Airtraveling

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