Saturday, February 7, 2009

Suspended Animation

(From February 5th) I'm sitting in terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. We've had a remarkably pleasant if cramped flight over the Atlantic fromWashington. As we boarded I was dismayed to walk by the comfortable looking sleeping couches on the way to my coach seat. British Airways tries to elevate coach class by calling it "World Traveler." We had the window and middle seat in a bank of three across. We slept because it was night time. Also because we had wine with dinner. The little TV screen in front of me kept me informed of our loacation, altitude, speed, time and outside temperature. I found that comforting. Trying to keep your wits about you is tough on a trip. We kept our watch on Washington time so we could keep schedule of our medicine times. It was a good point of reference and reminder of the great distances we were traveling. It was odd to me to think that the trip to London and the trip to Accra take the same amount of time but in only one case does the time change (Accra is straight south of London)

Before we left and during the flight I noticed so many different languages and manners of dress - not a big deal for Washington, but it still struck me. What struck me was the thought that when you're traveling away from your own country, the playing field levels. The status of "traveler" supercedes any other citizenship. For the moment, everyone is a citizen of the plane. Everyone's status is changing from native to visitor or visitor to native. The state of traveling is a state of change. Change that can take hours, weeks, or months depending on your technology. If you're Scottie, seconds. For some it takes a lifetime.

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