I’m between trips overseas right now, and planning my next one, in two weeks. But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about ‘Getting There’ – or that horrible vacuum of space, time, noise, discomfort that is our method of transport from one place to the other. The place occupied for a while in a metal capsule flying through space.
Not to make light of the terrible trauma experienced by Claire when she approached the Stones, and heard that buzzing and that sensation of falling apart and coming back together, but I sort of wish there was some truth to the story. And it’s not for want of trying either:
It hasn’t worked for me yet. But I’m prepared to try any other similar options that have even a dash of plausibility about them. . . damn it, or even no plausibility at all.
ANYTHING to avoid the horror of economy class travel by air. And please be aware that, coming from New Zealand as I do, EVERYWHERE requires long periods of air travel. My experiences are not as they picture them in the advertising – and I doubt anyone ever experiences economy class travel like this:
Look at them. He has space between his stomach and the tray table. They have gently styled hair, still in place.EVERYONE is smiling and that man at the far end can LEAN FORWARD and see past five other people to view us, with room to spare. The closest man is holding CHOP STICKS!! He is – look at him! She has a cut crystal goblet with drink in it. No one is crouching over the tray staring down at a lumpy mass of plastic boxes with tinfoil and wondering what is under it. Someone could actually pass by in front of everyone and shake the hands of the man by the window. It. Is. A. Dream. Why we swallow it, and don’t protest openly outside airports with placards and banners demanding that they do something about the great LIE, I don’t know. We all know reality is more like this:
THAT’s what I experience when I sit in those seats. I dread the person in front moving his/her seat back because the only available room to see my food or the screen will be lost. I can’t help feeling that there will come a day when people in economy will be injected with a sleeping substance and slid into a dark cavity next to other cavities, where they will remain in stasis until the end of the trip. I might almost prefer it.
OH, ROLL ON THE DAY that time travel becomes possible. When merely by placing a hand on an inert object, I can step through into another country – or time – and just be there. In the meantime, in two weeks, it will be like this again:
I can remember back to my first trips as an adult, flying to Australia, and LOVING it. The little tidy plates of airline food, the big screen up ahead to watch movies through the bodies of moving passengers going to and from the toilets. Things weren’t as clever, digitally, but there was more room, (I was smaller too), and I often found three seats in a row to lie down along. I know – you’re asking why I don’t spend twice as much and upgrade to business class. . . well, it’s something to do with a built in mechanism I have which says, “Wait, couldn’t you spend that on some neat thing/experience at the place you’re going instead?”
The thing is, travel is one of my greatest pleasures – arriving at some distant destination, one I’ve dreamed/read about for years sometimes. There is so much joy in being immersed in a totally different culture and environment, and so much to be said for the experiences that brings. The wider breadth of understanding. My artistic side gets an injection of life. I meet people whose backgrounds are very different but with whom I share the same excitement in life. All of these things make it very worthwhile going through the torture of the first few days of travel to get there.
It IS a delicate balance for me though. As I get older, my body is less er, flexible, and now succumbs to various hitherto unheard of ailments and aches. It means I am measuring out my future, planning my trips, and doing my best to enable that body to cope with the rigors of travel for as long as I can. It might mean NOT sampling every item of cuisine offered to me upon arrival. It might mean dragging myself out of bed every morning to do a brisk walk, and some exercises, to keep flexibility. It means watching my diet at home, and being conscious of what my body needs as opposed to what I am used to eating.
I can tell you – after flying for a day without stop overs, from Auckland to Edinburgh, last year. . . crawling in and out of airports and getting little sleep, I was ‘not my best’. But then at last, I looked out the window and saw green land below the wing of the plane, and an announcement overhead that said, “We descend into Edinburgh in 10 minutes.”
NOTHING acted more like a restorative than those words. When I left the plane I was almost bouncing, and I made my way into the city as if I had, indeed, just walked through stones to get there. Facing a trip to the USA in two weeks, I know it will be similar. The dread leading up to the flight, the horrible flight itself, and then the joy upon arrival. A bit like giving birth really. (Not that I’d know). At this point I’d finish with a platitude along the lines of ‘the best things in life do not come easy’ – but better than that. I’m sure there is one out there. You get the gist, I think.