It starts with a dull vibration beneath me that grows into a loud whir encompassing my entire surroundings. The lurch in my stomach indicates the ascension into a different world where time ticks slowly and space becomes just a fraction of what it is on earth. To my left I see a woman completing a sudoku puzzle; to my right I see the world.
I’m crammed into a room with over one hundred strangers whose lives have collided for the moment. We all come from different places and we are heading to various destinations. But for a moment, our paths have crossed.
I wonder if I’ll ever see them again. I wonder if I’ve ever seen them before. These people – so seemingly insignificant – could be my future friends, my long lost family. How do we know? We don’t.
I love this place where ginger ale is my favorite beverage and pretzels and peanuts comprise my diet. Where I look out the window and see an entire world unfolding. Where microscopic homes sit aside jelly bean sized pools. Where cars the size of ants slowly make their way across the spaghetti-thin highways.
I look out and wonder, comforted by the characteristically loud murmur of the engine, about all that is taking place beneath me. People are hugging, hitting, loving, and fighting. They’re awfully focused on their oh-so-important lives. But what don’t they realize is that they’re just a mere speck on this earth.
Straining my eyes to peer through the clouds, I can’t make out a single manmade establishment. I see patches of green and fields of blue, but nothing more. From this perspective, it’s so easy to conclude my own irrelevance in this world. I’m just a grain of sand in a vast desert. I’m a tiny being in a massive universe.
“Excuse me, ma’am, what would you like to drink?”
“Ginger ale, thank you.”
She hands me the plastic cup and square napkin, and I reach across the aisle to avoid spilling the contents of my drink on those in seats 22 D and E. I look back out the window and feel the physical shaking that accompanies turbulent skies. I sit up straighter.
The words above me command, “Flight attendants, prepare for landing.”I feel myself slowly descending. Houses and pools and cars and roads appear on the green patches. Boats pop up in the blue fields. A magnifying glass perspective takes effect. I can see the unfamiliar city and its peculiarities.
I look down at my lap and see my bright blue Five Star folder that’s tearing at the edges. “Jordan DeTar” the top right corner reads. A flood of earthly duties crowds my mind. Tests, papers, emails, interviews. Weekend plans, summer arrangements, and the ever-present future. Everything is so important.
We hit the ground and I feel the intense pressure. I look out the window and see everything pass at an incredible speed. I pick up my phone and the messages start rolling in. I have 15 minutes until my next departure.
The man in front of me is chatting with someone he’s just met. They’re laughing about something. I look at the time, 13 minutes to get there. It’s his turn to go, but he doesn’t notice. I’m getting frustrated. I have to be somewhere. He finally exits, and I hurriedly rush behind.
I dash through the crowded airport with my oversized duffle that’s dragging me down. I weave through the crowds, wobbling more with every second with no regard for those around me. I see my gate ahead and charge forward to complete my mission. My eyes close in on the “E9″ sign. A lady in front of me abruptly stops. I trip over my own feet in an attempt to avoid collision and I topple over.”What, does she think she’s the only person in this world?” I mutter.”People are so focused on their own lives,” I think to myself.
I get up and file into line, cutting off a group behind me. I hand the attendant my ticket. “Jordan DeTar, 17A” it reads. Up, I go again.