Well, now I have to go. The bags are checked, I’m through security and just counting down the minutes until I can board (as of this moment, 119 of them left…).
Despite California’s best attempts at sabotaging my plans with proximity to Dodger Stadium, perfect weather and two wrestling puppies (seriously, for like an hour, right in front of me), this trip is stamped official.
Right now, I’m posted up at a window a few gates down from mine watching this place operate from the inside out. I have no idea where any of these planes are going to or coming from, but it’s been fun to imagine. And it’s oddly comforting watching the workers on the tarmac expertly maneuver around each plane.
I remember my first serious book idea was born from spending half a day waiting for a flight in the Spokane airport during school. I never wrote more than the first few chapters, but I remember it being so easy to create personas for my characters just by watching and talking to people at the airport.
People-watching is a favorite pastime, especially in a place like the LAX International Terminal. I made the first of what I’m sure will be many mistakes when I figured I could just waltz on down from Oakland at 11:30 a.m. and check into my 10:50 p.m. international flight on the spot. Lots of walking with heavy bags and a few amused airport employees later, I ended up perched against a wall for nearly five hours, appropriately shamed.
But in that time I got to enjoy the weirdly inspiring airport scene: So many thousands of people streaming through every day with thousands of people to see or reasons to visit, yet all sharing the same goal of just getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. It made me wonder where the gossipy British couple a few seats down are headed, or which relative the elderly Asian woman next to me is gleefully Skyping with or who that nearly-sprinting lady was bringing a carnival-sized stuffed minion (of the Despicable Me variety) to?
Do they wonder where I’m going? Hell, I don’t even know where I’m going beyond the end of May. But do they wonder?
A middle-aged German man sat down next to me earlier, sighing exasperatedly at my use of a laptop and just started talking:
-Can you connect?
-Sort of. It’s in and out.
-*sighs* I can’t get my phone to connect. Are you traveling to Europe?
-Ah, so you’re a lucky one.
-What do you mean?
-See this line? (line containing aforementioned wrestling puppies) All our German pilots are on strike, so my flight is canceled and I have to find a way home through Poland now.
-I’m sorry! Good luck!
(The more you know, I guess. Don’t fly into Germany this week.)
After that conversation, I took care of some freelancing business, purchased a last-minute visitor’s visa for Australia online (mistake #2) and checked in to get myself up here, watching the sun set through the lovely L.A. smog while jets slice through the clouds, each carrying hundreds of these interesting people I’ll never meet.
All of it makes me realize just how little I actually know about other cultures and languages; and I’m sure that feeling will just become more present as I continue to travel. Even considering myself a fairly adventurous person, I can feel that comfort bubble beginning to stretch. That’s exciting. And scary. With emphasis on the former.
The enormity of this leap I’m taking really sunk in on Sunday night when I just couldn’t get myself to fall asleep. It’s like when you get to the very top of that first hill on a huge roller coaster and have a nauseous, giddy anticipation of what’s on the other side of the drop.
And this trip will go just like my rides on those roller coasters do; getting to the top and thinking (okay, screaming like a nine-year-old girl…) “Oh shit oh hell no what was I thinking let me out of here right nowwwwwwwwwohhhhhhhkay nevermind this is the best thing ever…”
I’m already over that drop, but have a long ride left, with more hills and loops and twists sure to come.