Exit Music (For A Film)

Greetings from the Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport where, like other points of departure and arrival, there is no joy.

It used to be that couples greeted one another with long, emphatic embraces, that families wept openly at their good fortune to be reuned, and that children giggled and skipped in anticipation of their departure to Epcot and beyond.

No longer.

Wearing headphones, speaking into cell phones, staring at our Blackberries, Game Boys, and laptops, we are plugged in, but tuned out. We graze on Sbarro, Starbucks, and Super Sized Pepsis. We bury our faces in Maxim, Details, In Touch, and Us Weekly.

We create for ourselves the illusion of connection, yet fail to interact with our fellow travelers. We feed ourselves the myth of fulfillment, but are starved for more within minutes. We peer into other’s more glamorous lives to escape our own mundane day to day. We isolate.

Why? Are we all afraid of the inherent gamble that is air travel? Is everyone, like me, imagining our fiery doom? Visualizing the moment of impact when the fuselage sheers in two, and its jagged aluminum edges tear into our flesh? Are we all so suspect of one another — He could be a shoe bomber! — that we can’t even smile? Or say hello?

I am not one for nostalgia, really, but wouldn’t it be nice if air travel was like it was back in the day? If men wore suits and fedoras, and ladies wore dresses and long white gloves? Wouldn’t it be nice if the in-flight meal came with silverware and a glass of champagne? And it didn’t cost an additional ten bucks? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some fanfare? Some enthusiasm? Some joy?

Still, manned flight is a miracle. Once onboard Northwest #5754, once nestled into seat 16B, I will fall into a shallow, dreamless sleep, and wake up moments later a thousand miles away. Fanfare or not, that brings me joy.

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