It’s April the First and my journey has begun. At 2 am I’m sitting up in bed in my son’s apartment in Manhattan after a three-hour drive from rural Massachusetts, fuelled by periodic stops along the way for tea, Crackerjacks (my only nod to today’s start of the baseball season), and more tea. (Tip for tea lovers who needs must stop at Dunkin Donuts: ask them to make the tea in their latte cups so that you don’t have to add injury to insult by drinking the stuff out of Styrofoam.) Tomorrow—no, later today—I ramp up to yet another mode of travel, via air/aero/plane.
To me, air travel is closely akin to teleportation. I feel every atom of my body getting scrambled as I am strapped in and transported to an impossibly distant place far more rapidly than can possibly be good for anyone. If I travel by train [see TMA #43, From a Railway Carriage] or ship [TMA # 20, The Bay of Biscay and the Gully-Gully Man] I can watch the landscape and the weather changing, and find myself becoming slowly, gently acclimatized to it. Stepping onto solid ground again, I know that I have come a long way; it has taken time, but that time has allowed my system to adjust. In contrast, with air travel the ground is covered so fast that after stumbling off the ramp at journey’s end it takes a long time to stop my jarred system vibrating like a victim of shaken baby syndrome and to start settling into myself again.
Every time, the arrival is like magic, unreal. Can I really be here, actually touching down in the place I have visited only in my dreams these past so many years? [See TMA # 56, International Arrivals.] As I reassemble, do I do so as the same person, or are parts of me awakened that have long lain dormant, parts of me, perhaps that I didn’t even know were there?
It’s not just the climate that I will find to be different as I step off each successive transporter pad, but also the culture—customs, clothing, language, food, tastes and sensibilities of all sorts. I pray that I may reassemble in a looser, more receptive mode, ready to laugh, readier to learn. But first, I pray that I may come through the teleportation in one piece, stepping out of my old stagnation and leapfrogging forward into Spring. Here’s to traveling light!