there and back again

the departures gate

we staked out a little den for ourselves in a corner of the departures gate, unpacked our lunches and laptops, and considered how much better a place in which to travel this world would be if all airports made internet and beer so readily accessible. i snapped a few final photographs, set them transferring, and curled up with my new yorker while girlcate searched for the bathrooms and keera foraged for beverages. it’s nice to have fellow travelers to watch your bags while you pee or wander the duty-free shops, and to buy you potato chips while you watch theirs, and to ask you incessantly if you’ve remembered things you need to have and checked things you may not.

waiting man

and you can always spot the people who are flying without this luxury; certainly, they’re easily discernible from those sitting solitarily only until their compatriots return from errands a gate or two down the way. their gazes will betray a sensation familiar to anyone who has ever gone anywhere without anyone else. the world wavers. it seems woozy and indefinite. the structures of things fail them. and then you get to thinking.

a jesuit priest once pointed out to me that every important revelation in the bible comes to someone on the road. “you’re taking in new smells,” he said, implicitly advocating, with his use of the second person, a more personal perspective of scripture than i’m generally inclined to take, “unfamiliar landscapes, foreign tongues. it opens you up to different thoughts, new ways of perceiving things.” the moral of the story was, i think, that the world would be a more progressive, more christian* place if people would just get up and out of their own countries every so often.

waiting woman

*[ these two words, interpreted as an upper-west-side jesuit living communally with the rest of his order most likely intends them, are more or less synonymous with the previous two words. ]

this notion of revelation as something natural and practical, something for which a willing recipient could actively petition the the heavens simply by striking out from wherever it was he’d been, hit me as both mind-blowing and obvious. it seemed less theory or theology than just empirically so. but if revelations were so easy to come by, why wasn’t everybody having them?

for you, who are on the road, company is, like cameras or lifestyle magazines or internet access in the airport applebees, a form of cowardice, a way of staying where you were wherever you may be. we can speak our own language and study our own customs and contain any curiosities we should encounter in a compact digital cabinet to show everyone upon our return. possibly there is useful information to be gleaned by doing without such things: it could be revealed, in the absense of familiar distractions, that our lives have been wrong, or somehow lacking, or just boring and stupid. but who has time for such revelations?

i barely have time to get through hertzberg before next week’s issue comes.

waiting keera

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  1. mandy says:

    wait where did you go, when, & why & are you back yet?

scrawls

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