Thursday, July 10, 2008

Airport Panic

I follow a fluorescent corridor out of the fuselage into a large rectangular lobby, stumbling into a stream of human traffic that leads to my connecting flight’s gate. I have just flown two and a half hours from Orange County airport to Houston, Texas, and in a few hours will board another flight to Charleston, West Virginia. I follow the large illuminated signs that point toward ‘Terminal B.’ At a dead end hallway after a labyrinth of escalators and industrially carpeted pathway, I board a small mono-rail for the last leg of my intermediate journey. As I secure myself to handhold, a glossy voice announces the destination (first in English and then in Spanish). After a few moments I notice that I am alone on the train.

As I leave the train through automatic doors into Terminal B, I am again awash in a sea of faces, the most intoxicating mixture of human variety. The atoms that make up the molecules and organisms of society. But here we break from the comfort and magnetism of society and become completely atomized: producers, consumers, departures, arrivals; haves and have-nots. I am stumbling through Milton Friedman’s utopia.

As I make my way through ever narrower passages, I feel waves of panic. I am terrified by people and I am in love with them, all in the same breath. Eyes dive for cover as I peruse the being-scape. I hear many words but few conversations. A human ant colony teleporting ourselves into and out of each other’s lives, cities, jobs, dreams: A body catch a body as its coming through the rye.

I arrive at my gate. Why am I doing this? Why am I here? The birds outside spend their days searching for food to fill their bellies; but I have to fly across the country to exchange my labor for cash that will buy food that will fill my belly. In the distance I catch sight of a bird caught inside the airport. There is of course nothing I can do. So I take my seat, a few away from the nearest body, and wait for the airplane to board.

No comments: