Flight or fantasy
At 33,000 feet above sea level, I sit alone among complete strangers in a densely packed Boeing 747. Being suspended in space somehow removes me from my normal, daily existence and returns me to my inner self. Sounds strange, but long haul flights have always given me this sense of detachment.
Wedged between a couple of Dutch newly weds and the window above the plane's right wing, I sit back to examine the movies featured on this ten hour flight to Bangkok. Then I open the paperback I brought along to kill time: "Lovers, a collection of stories by women writers."
My thoughts wander to Rodin's The Kiss which came to life today. While queuing at the immigration control gate at Schiphol Airport earlier, I observed a couple deeply engaged in a passionate embrace, kissing each other as though there was no tomorrow. Seemingly oblivious to their surroundings, they stood in the way of those who openly watched or pretended not to notice.
Were they parting for long? Was this their first time apart? Why didn't they care about kissing in public, standing in the way of the immigration officers and the rest of the queue? Who is to know whether they will ever see each other again?
Next to me, the newly weds seem more like an old married couple than the lovers at the gate. They don't hold hands but are very comfortable in their silence, even without headphones to watch the movies or listen to the music.
I am surprised how calm I am at taking this flight. After September 11th, I found myself dreading going on the plane. I viewed each journey as a risky venture. Instead of fearing it this time, I look forward to being on my own again and getting lost in my fantasies.
The first movie "Mona Lisa's Smile" stars Julia Roberts as a new teacher at Wellesley College. The last good-bye scene makes me cry, reminding me of all those in-flight movies that moved me to tears. Not a few tears do I cry, but rivers of tears that mess up my eye make-up and puff up my eye lids.
The second movie "Stuck on You" stars a considerably heavier Matt Damon from the Robert Ludlum movie I had seen him a couple years back. The trailers for this movie did not indicate that it was tear-jerker, yet I cry nevertheless.
The release of such torrents of tears takes me through a transformation from my normal world to the new world at the final destination. Like time travel, the tears bring back memories of time lost and gone. They trigger fantasies of the worlds I must choose, evoking feelings of love, longing, joy, hope, and ecstasy.
When I arrive at my destination, I know the pace, sounds, smells, and everything else will be as different from the origin of this journey as it is on the other side of the world.
10 April 2004 Saturday
Related journal entries:
Rodin's The Kiss - description