Hi again! I am traveling around the US and writing about it, and there seems to be no end in sight.
US Tour Day 32: The Tarmac
My trip back to San Francisco was over as quickly as it started. Except for a few stray boxes at my mom's house and my handful of things in Austin, everything I own is now in a storage space in San Jose. My mother dropped me off at the airport.
I walk away from the curb where the car dropped me off and herd my luggage into the airport's parental embrace. The airport seems like solace. Even during my saddest times, an airport is a place of comfort. It's sights and sounds and smells remind me that I'm going somewhere exciting and new and so far away—it is a metaphor for my life.
Here uniqueness doesn't matter. I know I am but one speck in its clouds of faceless children. I feel comforted nonetheless. There is the sense of buzzing around a hive there, everyone flying or poised for flight. They're all going somewhere, too, and the smell of emotional charge hangs around the long halls and expanding lobbies like ozone.
I've never spent enough time in airports. I can tell because I've never grown tired of those places. Unlike my dinner stomach and my almost–but–not–quite bottomless dessert stomach, my airport stomach never seems to get full. At least it hasn't yet.
My favorite part of the airport experience happens on the tarmac. I am utterly infatuated with walking across the smooth tarmac, and the feeling never fades. Oh, how I rejoice in those rare opportunities when I get to fly through an airport with ground level terminals! It is a time of emotion and indulgence for me. A big part of the thrill is the sense I shouldn't be walking there—like I'm fingering something sweet and off limits. Official uniforms; men driving strange fueling vehicles that exist nowhere else but there; clunky safety wear; bright orange vests. They all remind me that this place is not for me. And I love it. That's what makes it so good.
I move in deliberately slow motion across the pavement—almost crawling—enjoying it like the most self–absorbed hedonist lets their selfish senses linger on each pushing, breathing moment of sex, like the chocolatier who savors his finest creation, feeling it melt around his tongue and slowly fill his mouth and penetrate his throat.
And the steps up to the plane! I know my sweet tarmac time is almost over when I reach the wheeled, metal staircase and see the pilot waving and smiling and welcoming me. But, there is not sadness. These last steps (or first steps, if I'm just arriving) are so sweet in their own right. I feel like a president or some rock star when I hear my boots clank on the metal steps. Unlike them, there are no paparazzi stealing photos of me, their flashpots exploding like war. So, I usually take out my own camera and photograph myself, an attempt to capture the moment so I can roll around in it later.
Up the staircase I go. I let my hand brush against the handrail like a tourist might graze their hand on a sculpture with a "please do not touch" sign or how a tipsy young man at a party might let his body "accidentally" rub against the breasts of a woman he fancies yet has never met before and knows nothing about. The difference between me and them, though, is that I am acutely aware of what I'm doing—I appreciate each sensation and every microscopic division of time, openly basking in that which I know is off–limits to me.
I climb the last step and reach the climax. Everything around me is mine, and I swallow it in big gulps. The exploding, bright sun; the air full of diesel smoke; the tower; the sound of turbines whirring; pilots in black uniforms with white strips around the wrists; phonemes of overheard conversation from a passenger just ahead of or behind me; sounds of ascension; the impending loom of soft drinks and please remain seated with your tray somewhere and your seat back in the fully upright something.
And I step into the threshold of the plane's mild afterglow. The moment has passed, the indulgence is over. I share a courteous, embarrassed smile with the stewardess who greets me. I blush and wonder if she noticed. My narrow eyes scan the aisles for my seat. I sit, and soon the plane's white wings wave goodbye to the tarmac and the airport and the people buzzing around below.
I smile because I know it's not a time of endings. It's a time of beginnings. The sensations and and microscopic divisions of time and basking are only just starting up their giant engines. And I know that me and my life and this airplane are going somewhere exciting and new and so, so very far away.
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