flight plan

August 17, 2020

I remember a time when travel was as much about the journey as it was the destination. As a little girl, I dressed for flights. “You never know who you might meet on the plane,” my Dad used to say. I had a nautical pant suit that I recall wearing on a flight from London to Athens. I felt like Alexis Colby. I guzzled orange juice like it was champagne and pretended the in-flight magazine was Vogue. The flight attendants were so chic, with their hair-sprayed chignons and ruby red talons. My grandmother had been a flight attendant in the 60s, and she made it all sound so glamorous. “It was how I got to see the world.” She met my grandfather on a flight between New York and Havana. They were married a year later. When I met Jason, air travel still felt glamorous and carefree. His father, who had helmed the family business for decades, could call in for an upgrade every time I flew. The white linens, Scottish smoked salmon, flutes full of bubbles, it was all so decadent. Today, I’ve traded in my sailor suit for anything with an elasticated waist. There are no upgrades, the seats are sardine-can-small and even a pretzel will cost you. The journey is an experience most of us barrel through to get to where we need/want to go. And yet, no discomfort or stress can keep people away from an airport for too long. A pandemic may have slowed us down, made us more deliberate in our choices, (which is a very good thing) but travellers will travel. There’s much to much world to explore, and too many people to meet and clink glasses with over paella or Thenhuk soup. As psychologist, Marie Murray observed in the Irish Times, our urge to travel is innate. “It is our nature to travel. It is our joy to travel. It is our paradoxical psychological disposition to wish for the contradictory conditions of stability and change: to stay and to go, to be and to explore, to rest and to travel unceasingly.” Maybe Ralph Waldo Emerson was right, and it is about the journey. The discomfort, the tension, the thrill and the relief.

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