The Travelogue – in Short

Saturday September 30th I spent the whole day flying or waiting in airports and finally arrived in Asheville at 11pm after 26.5 hours… these are notes from my, well… notebook – mostly noted (notated?) in transit.

There are seven and a half thousand kilometres between Sydney and Los Angeles. It takes twelve hours and eleven minutes to get from one to the other. Don’t you think that’s extraordinary? I’m not afraid of much but I do find myself thinking about dying when I’m sitting in a jumbo jet launching out over Botany Bay. It’s a short distance between the sky and the sea there.
I’m not afraid to die, make of that what you will. I should qualify that – I’m not afraid of dying in my car or on this plane – But I am terrified of cancer. Actually, I had no idea how much that word scares me until my Mum said it. That family history I’ve talked about might just have has caught up with her. And so, in spite of all Biblical advice not of fear, Mum’s having breast cancer makes it just one step closer to me. And while I’m girding myself to walk through mastectomies and whatever other treatment is deemed necessary, in the back of my mind is the voice that says take notes… you just never know when you’re going to need to know what to expect.
I guess every shit heap has its upside… this stuff we’re going through now is real-time research for my novel.

The captive in a tuna can syndrome of economy class international travel leaves you at the mercy of someone else’s choice in movies. I’m seeing a string of films I’ve never seen before, of course the reason I never went to see them is because, well… I wouldn’t pay to see them at home…
I guess I have… this string of movies has cost me two and a half grand.

Is it me or is it slightly strange to be sleeping as close to someone as you would a lover and not even know their name?

Neil’s singing ‘Private Universe’ to me and it feels like that’s exactly where I am and have been for the last 13 hours. I spent a hundred and fifty dollars on noise cancelling headphones. I’m feeling very strongly as though it was the best money I’ve ever spent!

There’s a group of military personnel here waiting for our flight form LAX to Charlotte. Malaysian I think. Some of them are girls, you can tell by their hair. The boys are buzzed, as in wear buzz cuts. The girl’s are styled – I guess that’s something they had to consider when they let chicks in the military… Wouldn’t it have been weird if they made the girls buzz too?

Black Docs, stovepipe black Jeans, black polo – ordinary dyed hair (black) curly it is, longer on top, fair skin, really fair. Solid silver ring, chunky…on his right ring finger and silver and black wrist band. Maybe an anti-airsick magnetic one she says, looking surreptitiously at it. Black and Gold wristwatch, silver embossed brief case. Looks like the embossing depicts tweety bird… Forty-something. No wedding band, black under-shirt.
What’s he trying to say to the world by the way that he looks? Hmm… ok, it’s not tweety bird, it’s a skull and crossbones –
Still… it says something.

4 guys, real guys who look like they are on their way to a boys weekend away. One of them’s Hispanic, unmarried, the others wear rings, one of them’s tattooed all they way up and down his arms.
The could be college buds, or military – they’ve got the buzz cuts too, but 2 of them are all American – What is that? All American… The tan? The clean good looks? The white teeth? Their size (OMG) The fact they’re chugalugging their massive McDonalds Fries?
Yeah… that’s it. Supersized…

Have you noticed how neutral people are when they’re sitting alone at an airport gate lounge? No one exactly willing to engage, smileless, afraid to make the first move. I’m no less afraid, or proud… It’s just interesting to see a hundred or more people trying to keep themselves out of touch with each other. A space between each seat… A barrier (or safety gate). Even the couples don’t necessarily enage with each other what’s THAT about?
It reminds me of that collapsing apartment building at Lane Cove. Now all the tenants are best mates, it took a near disaster and a combined experience to bring them all together. What would it take here?
I’m almost tempted to stand up and start singing… They’d think I was crazy, but it’s just the sort of crazy thing that might make people start talking to one another.
But I’m no different from them… sitting here quietly writing secret thoughts into a journal…
How great would it be though? If someone stood up and belted out an Ella Fitzgerald classic and then just sat down.
You can bet everyone would be talking about it long into the future.

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  1. says

    Interesting observations, though I don’t know how you do it. That much flying comes close to unhinging me.
    Sorry to hear about your mum. I’ll be sending her thoughts of strength.

  2. says

    blarg, I ALWAYS think about it – and I’m very glad that on any long distance flights in future I will be sleeping next to the person who IS my lover!

  3. Ian says

    I’ve never thought about the sleeping proximity before: very interesting. And very interesting reflections: those long flights, departure lounges, etc… will never be the same: I’ll be looking for things as you did.

    And, continued prayers for your mum: God bless.