EP: Map Ref. 41°N 93°W by Wire
1979 Harvest Records HAR 5192, 7-inch
Favorite Track: 41°N 93°W
I love airports. Don’t get me wrong–I really hate airport security. I hate how much it costs to fly. I hate waiting for the luggage to arrive at baggage claim, worrying the whole time if it has been lost or damaged or rummaged through in some way. I especially hate finding a means to get to the airport. I even hate eating and drinking at an airport. But, in the end, after all the taking off and putting on of shoes and getting charged extra fees for having luggage, I still love airports for two reasons.
One: I am going somewhere or I am returning home. Both are great feelings. Traveling has always been a part of my life whether I wanted it or not because my parents were into traveling. They were also in moving a lot too but no amount of carrying heavy boxes and furniture up countless stairs will ever make me like moving. We often drove long hours with me in the back seat reading a book. My dad would probably say I missed half of the trip. I would argue the relatively flat American landscape dotted with corporate logos was better missed for the imagined worlds of Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, and Douglas Adams. One notorious trip to Yellowstone, I completed 12 novels including the unabridged copy of the Stand. Technically, I think I finished it two or three days after the trip but I read the majority of it on the road, which I also read that trip. We had to stop 3 times, I think, for me to purchase more books. It was wonderful. Returning home is also wonderful. Not just because it is a return to the comfort of routine and every day life, but it is also a departure from a list of annoyances that are bound to come up while traveling. I find the night I return to be a necessary reflective moment: I in my PJs with a glass of Tempranillo in my hand writing a thought or two about my recent experiences. I suppose a hot shower should be included in that, however, I am used too tired or too fearful the calming sensation of running water will put me to sleep before I can turn my mind back to the Mona Lisa or Kafka’s messy handwriting or the Bone Church at Kutna Hora.
Two: Being at the airport is essentially the same as waiting to ride the most popular roller coaster at an amusement park–Long hours of waiting plus one long pull up to the top plus a quick race to the end where more waiting occurs. What to do with all that time? Read. Maybe I am at airports by myself too much so I don’t have people to play a quick game of Pandemic or Dominion. Maybe I have yet to try saying hello to one of the many beautiful women who are also sitting around and waiting. Maybe I am not distracted by Facebook, YouTube, NetFlix, or e-mail like many others. Luckily, my work stays at work. So I read. I can usually finish one book on the trip there and read another on the trip back. Or blast one 600+ book. I usually travel sitting at the windows periodically looking down at the world below from a perspective I rarely see it from. But the clouds mostly obscure the farmlands or we are too high up to make out anything but the highways and tallest skyscrapers. I am reminded of the lyrics from the Talking Heads song “The Big Country.” Then I start a new chapter. Reading makes me forget how stiff my knees are becoming.
A week from today, I will be traveling to South Carolina to visit my parents. I have thought of bringing some of the books from my to-read shelf, but I just complicated matters by purchasing Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. I will probably change my mind three times before I just throw four random books into my bag. Somehow, I am always rushing out the door when it is time to go. My parents are excited to see me. I wish I could stay longer, but the library is open almost every single day of the year. For all those who are traveling this year, I suggest you bring a novel this time. A graphic novel would work to if you are more inclined toward illustrations. But put away your phones and lap tops. Escape from this world for a couple of hours. It really does make the time go fast and make sitting in an airport tolerable.