Airport Chronicles (Part II)

I’m in Detroit. It’s just this side of 7:30, local time, but I think it’s really four in the morning. I was going to write something on the plane, somewhere over the midwest, a great, flat expanse of lights. I was going to write something about the mother-daughter pair sitting next to me. About the teenaged girl who had silver nail polish, was terribly impatient about anything her mother had to say, and was wearing one of those Irish wedding rings &#151 you know, the ones with the hands holding the heart. When I was her age, the urban legend had it that when you wore it with the heart turned toward you, you were taken, away from you, you were single. Hers was turned in and judging from my eavesdropping she’s got a boyfriend in California. I was comforted to know that some things don’t change.

So I was going to write about all that from the plane. I thought it would make for good ambiance or something. But I dozed off uncomfortably for an hour or so and watched some old Simpsons episodes on my laptop instead. So now I’m writing from my layover in Michigan.

And let me tell you a thing or two about this airport. I am in the future. This is beyond a shadow of a doubt the nicest airport I’ve ever been in. It feels like something out of a science fiction movie set in the not-to-distant future. The motorized walkways run between fancy restaurants and boutiques. We’re not talking the usual crappy little shops that airports have, but theme restaurants. I just had breakfast in an internet cafe, and the bill was actually less than the drink I had in San Francisco. There’s a million little mechanical voices all over the place tell you to be careful getting off the walkway and inviting you into the stores and reminding you what time it is. Oddly enough, all the signs are written in English and Japanese. (Is there a large population of Japanese in Detroit? Is it somehow related to the auto-industry?) But to make things even more surreal for this intrepid traveler, there is an electric tram running the length of the terminal overhead, whisking passengers from one end to the next like the People-Mover in Tomorrow Land of my childhood Disneyland.

It’s overwhelming. And I can’t quite tell if all the bells and whistles of this place are distracting me more than the sheer of exhaustion of travel. Of having gotten no more than an hour of sleep. The sun is rising, which seems impossible. Did I miss a night? Of course. Yes of course I did.

To make my whole concept of time even more complicated, I am now in the Eastern time zone, but Milwaukee’s in Central. So I leave here at 9:15 am and arrive there at….9:16 am.

Well. I feel the need to say something profound here. Wasn’t the whole point of my little internet venture to write Profound Things if not for your amusement then for mine? Maybe it was. But I’m tired and feel sort of juvenile right now. I’m feeling all excited about travel and my new toy which can connect me to the internet so I can upload this rant to my site while still sitting here in the airport. So, at bottom, this rant has no point. None. Except maybe to stave off the boredom of a three hour layover in Detroit. No matter how many bells and whistles they may have here, it’s still just an airport.

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