Because when I fly I'm generally travelling for work, running off to a conference or a convention (or, a couple of years ago, a job visit), I'm generally under some gun or another until I arrive at the airport. Today has been no real exception; I spent the morning teaching and then writing, the afternoon making a handout, packing, and driving down to the airport. Because there's so much running about involved in getting out of my village and down to the airport, it's always a little surprise to me when check-in takes three minutes (a swipe of the passport and I'm good to go) and security is over in five. And then there's the waiting.
I am in love with airport time, even when everyone around me is walking around muttering into a cell phone--or here, where there's free wireless access, muttering on a cell phone and using a computer at the same time. What I love is the stoppedness of time in the airport--the fact that there's nowhere to go, no specific thing to do. This stopped time has often led me to surprisingly good pedagogical thinking; I have dreamt up whole new syllabi in boarding areas, reconstructed essay assignments in airport cafés, graded piles of papers while waiting for the announcing and the scrambling to begin.
Tonight, I fly one of my favorite planes on the first leg of this trip.
Geese and other assorted birds fly past the concorse windows, two by two. A United jet pulls in, just beyond my peripheral vision, heavy and grey, looking like the picture of a whale in a children's book. I managed to scratch up my lip just before I left home, and I keep wanting to find a way to soothe it but have none.
The first people I saw when I walked into the airport, an hour from home, were six students from my college who are also traveling to a conference, though not my conference. "You get the better trip," they said. "But we might get the better weather."
The fields between Gambier and the Columbus suburbs are startling in their new greenness, the rows of their planting fine and narrow, visible only in the passing. The tin roofs of barns gleamed silver, up and down the counties between home and here. My favorite cows, the ones who live just outside Homer, were lolling and lying about in the golding afternoon sun, in their great largeness. And an old wreck of a beautiful house that's been falling apart swiftly and surely in downtown Brandon is suddenly getting new windows where it's had only plastic sheeting, new paint where it's had only strips and chips and remnants for years. The newness is heartening.