Friday, March 12, 2010

Nonsensical musings following travel catastrophe

So, last night, I was trying to get home from Jacksonville, FL. If I were to fly direct, it is a 1 hour and 45 minute flight. Assuming the normal 90 minutes at the airport prior to the flight, half an hour to get there, half an hour to get home, all in all, the trip should have taken about four hours and fifteen minutes.

But, it rained. And was foggy.

I got to the airport at 4:00 p.m. and walked into my house at 2:30 a.m. Ten and a half hours, at least an hour of which was spent circling the Atlanta airport waiting to land. It gave me much time to muse (and curse under my breath).

The Atlanta airport is one of the last bastians of Western civilization that allows its patron to indulge in the increasingly taboo and downright nauthy act of smoking indoors. Now, I am trying really hard to quit, I am down to 3 cigs a day, and am weaning off of them quickly. However, following the ordeal up until that point, and with the prospect of being stuck in Atlanta all night hanging over my head, I decided to indulge in my taboo and downright naughty habit. I paid $9.15 for a pack of Marlboro Menthol Lights (not my brand, but what the store in the airport had), and entered the smoking lounge.

Walking into a smoky room, steel chairs, no windows, and a quiet murmer of conversation was, for whatever reason, highly disconcerting. Nonetheless, I sat down, lit up, and sighed with relief. And, as I always do, began to people watch and (to be honest) eavesdrop on the conversations going on around me.

I was sitting by the sterile, hospital-looking sliding doors that looked out upon the rest of the airport, and noticed something interesting. Outside, in the smoke-free, less cancer-risky crowds, no one was speaking. Everyone sat at the gates, consumed in their blackberries, iPods, laptops, books, or thoughts, basking in solitude. Inside, huddled in clouds of carcenogins, we all chatted. From "can I use your light?" to "how long have you been stuck here?" the atmosphere was downright cordial. Despite the bleakness of the smokers lounge, it made me sad I was quitting.

Smoking is one club where there are no entry guidelines. Heck, even people with no money can get it if their bumming skills are up to par. And it got me thinking...

I am, largely, a rather isolated person. Sure, I have friends and family, and am very much part of a network. I have an astounding support system. I have no time to see most of them or be a very good reciprocal participant. I try, and I do have a strong core that are part of my daily life, but I still can go weeks on end without physically touching another person. However, I don't think I am alone.

There have been countless studies done on the impact technology has on human interaction. I've got no astounding knowledge to impart that isn't already there. But, I realized last night that most of my face-to-face, human bonding usually involves something that is "bad for me."

Smoking is a prime example. I made friends last night in the lounge, and we shared our snow woes. Back at my gate, I just grumpily eyed the entire lacrosse team that was about to board my flight with dread. Drinking is another good one. How many friends, even if the relationship lasts only until the next shot, have we all made in bars? And how about eating, my favorite "bad for me" activity? Eating is very social to me. When I am alone, I eat a salad and drink water (I literally do). When I am with friends, it is all about the Chinese take out and a beer.

Now, the lacrosse team, they had companionship based around something good and healthy. It made me sad that I am not atheletically inclined, and forced me to promise myself that at tomorrow's kickboxing class I would try to make a friend. Maybe. If I can stand up when its over.

I got on the plane very somberly, realizing that I needed to reshuffle my time and put more emphasis on reingraining myself in my network of friends and family, of decreasing the isolation.

And then, I sat next to Chris, the 39 year old personal chef from York, PA. Chris has two kids by two women, and an ex-wife with no kids. He had 15 pictures of his motorcycle on his iTouch, and one of his daughter. He told me in no uncertain terms that he knew I must be single because no man would "let" his woman travel as much as I do. Chris culminated two hours of talking my ear off and trying to convince me to put my head on his arm and go to sleep by asking me out.

For real?

It made me rethink my rethought stance on isolation.

I don't know, these are non-sensical musings. I am curious, though, if anyone has thoughts.

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