“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
― Hunter S. Thompson
The sound and smell of an airport – have you ever noticed it? It is a combination of Jet A, leather, cigarette smoke (from the old days unless you are in Salt Lake), fast food and the perfume of misplaced souls. You begin to smell it as your ride pulls you up to the departure lane. Alaska, United, Frontier, Continental, Virgin, Southwest. The signs slowly come into focus and march off into the distance. You bob and weave through happenstance travelers. No nothings. You watch the airport cops, and are reminded of Paul Blart: Mall Cop. They have only one task at hand – write tickets to the slow and foolish. Simpletons. Your mission is a quick in and out job. Exit. Grab. And then roll. Capital letters and numbers in hand or in the brain, memorized during the ride over.
For me it is mandatory. UPGRADE! As often as possible without hesitation. Why? Why waste the money? Who cares? I do. I want to be comfortable on yet another excursion. I want the ability to stretch out. I want to find that happy place, without having to remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine gets stuffed in center seat in the back of the plane with the common folk. I do deserve it. I spent years back there, and thousands of miles earning my freedom.
That smell of Jet A, leather, etc., makes every airport on this planet a beacon for Superfund Clean up, should they ever shut it down. It is that smell that creates a butterfly in the gut. You are about to embark on a journey. A place you have never been or a place you return to frequently. There is a mission, an itinerary, and a journey that is going to ensue at this point. As you build those miles, you realize that the life of a vagabond is not all it is cracked up to be, and then again maybe it is.
I sit there wrapping off the pilots communications in my head. They are in fact the ultimate vagabonds. They are homeless. They do in fact make the money to pull them from a true vagabond status, but that is where their hearts live. Maybe they are more like pirates, swashbucklers? Technologically driven travel. Much in the same as my camera-laptop-iPhone-iPad toting self. “Alaska Niner Eight Heavy, position and hold runway one six. That’s position and hold one six for Alaska Niner Eight Heavy.” It is the moment that you know stuff is going to happen really fast and you are going to be on your way.
As the metal rumbles down the runway things happen. Noises. Movements. Then the bounce. The bounce that says I am ready to fly. Rotate. And flight. Everything stops, a calming moment where everything seems at ease, with the exception of the turbines at max. You are headed to Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Florida, New York, or even points beyond, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America. The sky is the limit. Life is the limit. You are one step closer to beating up that soul and crashing into the end with a hard skid and a middle finger to the world. Life is so good. The loneliness and cravings for a cheese burger are a distant thought right now. You are about to experience a newness that you want. A newness that is essentially different than what you currently know. The memories of your every day life will come running back soon. It all depends on how long this drifting moment lasts.
I am Anchorage bound to meet some old friends. Where are you headed? We are the Vagabonds. It’s another amazing ride. Again.