At the Airport - St Petes, Florida
At the Airport !
Funny, as a frequent leisure traveler, I haven’t been anywhere on a plane, and really only a rare occasion outside a range of 2hrs from my home, in a year. All the annual rituals - the holidays of course with family, but also the yearly sojourn to NYC with my son we’ve pulled off since he was 2 months old, the Stowe trip, the vacations and jaunts and weekends and plans - all cancelled.
So I step on a plane to St Petersburg Florida to check out a city I’ve never been but have heard great things about, I feel a sense of something - relief, maybe - as life seems to be about turn that corner into the home stretch of return to normalcy. We have a sane president, Trump fading from view, government acting responsibility and marshaling the full extent of American talent to pull us to safety, with none of the day to day counterproductive nonsense. The Democrats are certainly taking advantage of the old adage of ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ with their passage of that $1.9Trillion stimulus, investing and supporting much more than that impacted by the Pandemic. I’ve found the same to be true - when shit hits the fan and chaos ensues, look around and see what else you can fix that isn’t directly related to the root cause of the disruption - you are already disrupted, what’s a little more? Truth is, all of us shy from upsetting the apple cart, even when it’s clear the apples are rotten, since it just invites misery, but once already slathered with a little misery, a little more hurts less.
I’ve been so single-minded I’m worried about the process of turning it off. Astonishingly, single-minded and wholly effective, summoning talents and resources and depths that go unnoticed and untested during the normal course of events. Coming out the other side twice the man I was going in, which is really unfair to the ladies to be honest.
I was standing waiting in line, and it occurred to me the feeling I'm feeling, and I felt a phrase turn come to mind. Emotional Hibernation - all of us shut down, hunkered down, repressed, deflected, reasoned and waited our way through a wholly unpredictable and wholly unexpected and totally disruptive life event. I feel we all need a big cry when this is over. It’s been real and we all did our best. It feels like WWII is ending, and we are all ready to hit the streets and celebrate.
And sometimes that’s what you need - an event so big and traumatic and disruptive that you have no choice but to pay attention. It triggered a change of the presidency, it demanded and accelerated change in the work place, it pushed the skills and talents of all our gov’t, corporate, business and educational in ways unimaginable.
Those of us running things - if we survived, our skills are 3 fold what they were a year ago. You reacted and acted or you went out of business. You looked into the abyss and mapped a course forward, a course shrouded in fog the entire time, every assumption truly untested, every decision a best guess. And the one thing that really helped in this regard was there was little distraction from working - single minded focus wasn’t some heroic accomplishment - there was nothing more to do. Kids activities cancelled or curtailed, among the hundreds of life events that suck and compete for our time were not competing. You could dial in, stay close to home, focus in, think and strategize and work. Traveling takes time and effort over and above the actual travel and ‘time’ is a zero sum game - what use at one place is not available for another.
The old patterns are returning, but like anything you’ve missed, they come back better appreciated and sweeter. The kiss, the rendezvous, the sporting and concert event, the meal with the grandparents. (me wearing my flamingo shirt my son gave me in front of a bunch of real life Flamingos in St Petes).
My flight routine is familiar - headphones and a newspaper and normally some writing. I always listen to Buenos Vista Social Club, and I only listen to it while flying, so like the music is closely associated with flights, travel, and going in and out of naps on a plane. Sometimes I’ll move onto George Harrison’s early 70’s All Things Must Pass, and sometimes Mark Ronson light and groovy bits.
The flight was full, middle seats used up, lines at security and onboarding the plae, so I guess covid restrictions are only being enforced with schools and other things where the little guy can't fight back. The fucking guy sharing my row in 1st Class definitely didn't spend the weekend respecting covid rules, I would bet on that as a sure thing.
Most excitingly, when we landed, there were 5 police cars waiting, and they called a name and guy walked forward and got arrested - not for not wearing a mask, though he wasn't - but for something a lot more serious it appeared.