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Far For a Week?

January 31, 2010

“Isn’t that far for a week?” my colleague asks.

I am on a plane again.  This time to Zimbabwe.  For a week.

Is it far?  Well yes-I suppose, but, San Francisco is 6 hours.  Amsterdam is 8.  Tokyo is a whole lot more.  I’ve never really thought of it in terms of “far.”  For me it’s a routine of Home.  Pack.  Get in cab.  Check in.  Take off boots.  Laptop out.  Ignore the baggie rule and see if I get caught.  “M’am, we need to go through this bag of cameras.”  “Yes, I know.”  Stroll to gate.  Get sushi.  With extra eel sauce.  The guy knows me now.  Board plane.  Have argument over size of camera bag.  Hover and stake out extra seats to sleep on.

If I had a second home, it would be between an airport and a plane, on the way to somewhere.

For me, an airport embodies dreams, and possibility.  You can go anywhere.  Do anything.  Be anyone.  Call me crazy, hundreds of destinations spelled out in lights on a black board.  Pick a gate number-any number.  Where do you want to go? Shopping in Paris?   Melting raclette in Zurich?  Dancing in Rio?  Table Mountain in Capetown?  It’s all possible.  Some you must hurry for-they are boarding.  Others are delayed, another bottle needs an owner in the Duty Free shop.  Some, like mine, are right on time.  Right out of Dulles-straight for Johannesburg.

So, is it far.  In miles.  In mind, for me, it’s right next to my heart, so the hours of stars and clouds that parade by my window at 35,000 feet, are just there to entertain me while I wait a bit-to get to the the place I miss; to the place I hear the Fish Eagle call; to the place where my brain can think again.

I watch two of twenty movies for the offering.  I spread out in the two seats I’ve managed to hoard on a full flight.  I’ve made friends with the preacher directly behind me, and an “airline people” who is based in Johannesburg.  I endure the screaming child strapped to his car seat in row 32 and refrain from the desire to ask his mother if she wants me to walk him up and down the dark sleepy aisles.  We can all hear him loud and clear-even at row 53, and his parents remain deaf to him, and his older brother sleeps.  The flight attendent begs, “please get up and console the child-take him to the back, or try and make it better, but there are other passengers, and they are complaining, so at least look like you are trying to do something about it.”

I stand for a bit as we stop in Dakar to refuel – the preacher and I will that no new passengers get on-the second seat is a blessing.  I take half an ambien after take off, and dream until an hour before landing.  We disembark, I run through the transit hall, through security again.  I’m now in one of my favorite airports.  Johannesburg.  It’s familiar.  I know the store clerk in the safari clothing store.  I buy chocolate and biltong, quickly check email, and then go to A24 for the flight to Harare.  It’s raining.  Boarding is delayed.  We drive around the tarmac looking for the misplaced plane.  I sit next to a sweet Zimbabwean who gives me his card;  if I ever need anything in Harare, please don’t hesistate to call.  We land in the dark.  I pay my 30 dollars for a visa.  And my purple duffel bag shows up.  Success.

So, is it far?  No.  It’s worth it-as I sit here in a pink bedroom in Harare, on the floor at midnight, not sure if I need to sleep, eat or start writing by hand; my laptop battery is at four percent, and I’ve brought the wrong plug.  But the rain patters down in a steady stream just outside the fairy curtains;  a cool warmth seeps into the room.  I am not far at all from where I will be tomorrow.  On a truck, in the hills, chasing wild dogs with the camera.  A week is not too short to live a passion.

So no-it’s never a far journey,  to get to be where you want.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. martha aigner permalink
    January 31, 2010 20:59

    Love reading your stories! M

  2. February 1, 2010 03:46

    KA – Good piece of writing there!
    Where exacxtly IS it in Zim that you’ve been going of late?

  3. February 1, 2010 03:56

    I am loving this blog! Can’t wait for the next part of your adventure. xo Mish

  4. February 1, 2010 11:24

    ya KK, really nicely written. B safe. Love, the munchkins, and thanks again for the presents.

  5. Kris Aigner permalink
    February 7, 2010 14:28

    An airport embodies dreams and possiblilities. I couldn’t have put it into to words any better than that. I think of all the different airports I have been to in my life, and how often i have been to certain ones. But there is definitly that unique feeling of adventure and anticipation that infects me whenever I find myself at an airport with a destination. Now I think about how it would be without a destination…

  6. July 3, 2014 19:50

    Hauntingly beautiful


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