At the same time, as I approach the airport, the sight of other people's planes arriving and departing over my head amazes me. I stand in awe of the human ingenuity that allows us to travel this way.
Over the years, I've agglomerated rituals to calm the pre-flight flutters. I rehearse my mental list of oft-forgotten things ad infinitum, knowing that I will realize which one is missing and grab it at the last moment. I pause to sit on my suitcase as my Russian sisters have taught me. I bid farewell to the land I'm leaving through the gap between jetway and airplane. (I've given up tossing a coin onto the tarmac for fear the TSA will question my motives.) As the plane begins to taxi and then gathers speed to jump aloft, I breathe the word 'safe' over and over again and imagine my little mantra reaching out in expanding circles to reach my row, my cabin, my plane, and then all the planes nearby.
On this trip, I was struck by the extreme liminality of travel by plane. Certainly all travel is the traversing of a threshold between origin and destination. But a horse, a car, even a train, can be made to stop at any given point on the trajectory. In motion, they occupy a transitory space between, but simply by ceasing to move, the traveler immediately finds her self located in some specific where.
The traveler by plane, however, does not have the option to stop the vehicle. To travel by plane is to give oneself over to the authority of pilot and air traffic controller, to agree to remain in the space that is no where until arrival at the destination.
Often though, this destination is still an other space. Today, I crossed an ocean, and even though I am decidedly present in this here, it is an exotic space to me. In a foreign language, in an unusual state of aloneness, in a new city, adventure is mine.