Everyone Looks To The Blue
Everyone’s looking skyward, because wherever it is they’re going, the sky’s the way there.
The sky looks angry today, with bruised looking billows of scud clouds, tumbling east to west on a wintery gale that is limiting the airport to just two instead of six landing runways. Which slows the normal flight operations pace to a crawl.
Of course it’s chaos in the terminal–it’s Spring break. Snow flurries add to the festive Spring atmosphere, celebrating a freak late-season storm galloping out of Canada (can’t they keep their cold air up there where it belongs?) to poke down into the central United States and wreak havoc on a thousand travel plans.
Spring Break spawns the airport freak show like the bar in Star Wars: apparel matches the destination, not the location. Shorts and t-shirts bound to or from the beach jostle elbows with weary Joe Businessman jockeying for boarding priority, knowing the overhead space on the aircraft is tight, and also knowing that since no one wants to pay to check a bag, everyone wants to drag everything on board.
Looking to the sky outside, the biz guy prays for an on-time arrival wherever it is he’s going that he’d probably rather not be, unless it’s home. He studies the sky absently, thinking beyond today’s steel-gray sky spitting unwelcome snow pellets. Hadn’t the calendar vanquished what’s already been a miserable winter of delays and cancellations everywhere business is done? Still, he’s either wherever he’s going in his head (an exciting Power Point, maybe?) or wherever he just came from (missing family? Swearing to travel less, but the boss wants to stay home too, so . . .), or as likely, wherever he wishes he could be instead.
There’s always a group of teens or early twenties, bound in a group headed for a school team or band or church trip, confusing their “first ever” gang trip with “the first ever” trip of this kind: it’s the illusion of youth that whatever they’re doing, this is it, rather than “this is one more of those done by these” who may dress differently than the last generation but are essentially the same nonetheless. And that’s okay, that’s what they’re supposed to do. Teen boys bound and frisk like restless ponies and show off for studiously disinterested girls; loud voices, weary chaperones, harried agents–it’s all part of the mix.
Families try to carve out a space in the boarding area. Children try not to fidget, but it’s too hard and really, better to get the energy out now rather than in flight. Parents with infants are like roadies with rock stars, schlepping all manner of equipment: strollers as complex as the fold-out Apollo Lunar Rover; food-beverages-diapers-outfits-containers-bottles–the band’s here!
The younger couples in the pre-kid and recent-post-honeymoon phase watch it all and try to project themselves in the family role, but why? You can’t really try it on mentally as if it were a radical fashion departure, nor can you imagine the nostalgia with which you’ll look back on the pre-kids travel when your parenthood days come. Just enjoy the trip–and trust me, you’ll love the kids and the adventures when it’s time.
The older folks with more issues than just reservations and vacations melt into the woodwork. Mobility challenges, hearing, seeing the dang small monitors–it’s less of a lark and almost more important for them; more than from point “A” to point “B,” it’s an odyssey fraught with unforeseen obstacles.
I keep an eye out for them: let me get the information that eludes you, the service person who overlooks you, the answers you need and ways and means to get you where you’re going. Thanks for your patience; we’ll get you through this rolling tide of humanity and into the blue as soon as possible.
Me? I’m whomever you need me to be: for the elderly, I’m Charon, the Ferryman, polling your raft. I’ll take you where you need to be, even if you can’t picture the place yet yourself.
Not just the elderly, but the unaware, heading to places from which there’s no return. It’s not just age, but circumstance as well. I never forget that the journey for you may be beyond my imagination–and possibly yours too–when it comes to the changes in life marked by travel. It will mean something to you, so it’s important to me.
I’m the character at Disney, wearing the costume you want to see in order to embrace the comfort of the story that goes with it.
That’s part of the illusion (I really don’t need a hat and tie to fly the plane–and they often are ditched behind the closed flight deck door) and the story line you’ve paid for enroute. Even in my usual jeans, I still have the thousands of hours of experience and flight time that are what really matter, never mind the costume.
Most of all, I’m the watchman, the Catcher in the Rye, making sure you get where you’re going safely despite the miles high perch and the barely sub-sonic speed in our aluminum island in the sky.
Because I get it, really I do: here, time is nobody’s friend, because this is only a waypoint on the road to where memories are made.
When we finally blast off, it’s no longer the waiting–it’s the going, the doing. We’ll climb that giant staircase and perch miles high for a few hours. You can study the blue above and the dirt below in the moving tapestry of here to there.
Take your time, enjoy the sky. You’ll be “there” soon enough, and too soon back if you’re lucky. For now, just look to the blue.