When Flying was a Special Occasion
Most of you have probably seen the flick Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, right? It depicts the sexy allure of airplane pilots, stewardesses, and the airline industry in general in the 1960s. My Dad always told me stories about how when his family traveled to Europe or Africa, it was A REALLY BIG DEAL. I mean, you wore your best dress or suit and tie, your fanciest shoes and coat, and your luggage came by the trunk-load. Back in the day, it was a special privilege to fly anywhere, much less overseas. People took flying – and themselves- very seriously. Everyone dressed to impress. Those times are long gone (with the exception of the business traveler). It’s sad and nostalgic, but it’s also a great relief for practicality’s sake! When I think about sitting on a ten-hour flight in a starchy, collared dress and high-heels, I break out in a sweat!
In modern times, flying has become affordable and accessible to the mainstream. Folks have traded in their sports coats and ties for tee shirts and jeans (or even sweatpants!). This does not mean that flying has lost it’s allure completely. It might not be as elite and classy as it was in the 60′s, but it’s still exciting for all that it represents. When I travel, I get excited on multiple levels. I deliciously anticipate a new destination and the mysteries it will unveil to me in its people, scenery, culture, food, ambiance, and overall experience. I can honestly say that I am probably my happiest immediately prior to (and during) a trip to a new place.
I look forward to the traveling almost as much, if not as much as, the actual destination, though. When I arrive at an airport and pull out my passport, I feel a surge of energy. It is a feeling of complete freedom and humility- empowerment with a sense of welcome naiveté – because I am embarking on a journey into the unknown- literally. I am traveling to a place where people do not think or possibly look like I do. The customs and laws are completely foreign. What if something terribly bad happens? How am I going to communicate in a language I don’t know to simply get to my hotel or apartment? What if I get lost? Or mugged? Or….. Sidenote: if you usually travel with family or a significant other, these feelings are very muted. I HIGHLY recommend traveling somewhere foreign to you ON YOUR OWN, as it is incredibly exhilarating and enlightening! The more you do this, obviously, the easier it is to cope with these uncertainties. But I LOVE THE RUSH!! I love being terrified and nervous! I love feeling humbled, knowing that I am entering someone else’s domain, that I am a visitor in a foreign land, expected to follow their legal and cultural norms. It is such a good lesson in self-growth and life.
So, for all of these reasons, I LOVE FLYING. Even after all of the crashes and terrorist attacks, and even the few scares I’ve personally had on planes, I still love it. I love thinking about all of the movies I’ll get to watch, while I dine-so fine (I really like airplane food. I consider this one of my idiosyncrasies), and sip on free wine! You can ask my husband. I get REALLY REALLY excited about international flights. I flew home from Johannesburg, South Africa on my birthday last year. I got a few pitty-ridden comments from friends, but I was ecstatic to spend my birthday drinking wine and watching movies while looking out a window at 40,000 feet! I consider it an exercise of completely productive (gets you from A to B), non-stop entertainment, and I don’t understand how some people hate it. Domestic flights are a bit different, but still hold their appeal. Many people I know pop an ambien and pass out as soon as they eat their first meal. Some even hate or won’t fly. Not me. I love it. I don’t think I would love it so much if I did it every day (professionally), but for what it symbolizes to me, the entertaining quest towards my constant, dynamic dreams, I will always, always love flying.
Needless to say, I’m looking forward to my American Airlines flight to BA via Dallas today! Oh, and you better believe I’ve already reviewed the on-demand movie listing (I’m also a movie enthusiast, if you couldn’t tell). Somehow, on that flight, I have to find the time to speed-read the book UPS just dropped off on Buenos Aires… Ahhh, gotta love last minute trips!