Monday, June 15, 2009

before the meltdown

Getting There (or here - depending on pov):

It was always interesting arriving at O'Hare and going off to look for the connection to Portland while walking among of crowds of people heading off to all sorts of exotic, perhaps even sophisticated destinations - New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris, Rome, Prague, Reykjavik,Vienna, Berlin, Beijing,Tokyo - perhaps even Lhasa via Delhi. Everyone tends to dress for their destination so you'd see people heading to Hawaii already wearing beach clothes and the ones on their way home to London making sure they weren't parted from their umbrellas. Walking along the broad concourses of the alphabet terminals, maybe even getting to ride the underground people mover, looking at the neon light show while listening to Brian Eno's 'Music For Airports', you could imagine being free to go anywhere. Where's the gate to the past you may have wondered but I think it was never there to be found.

I always made a point of visiting the bathroom even if I didn't have to just to flush and watch the seat wrapping revolve to a fresh section. For some reason that particular version of 70's futurism always amused me. Back then, if their was a long interval between flights, it was still possible to leave the terminal to go outside and watch people arriving. Limos, buses, cars and cabs would pull up to the departure doors dropping off passengers in every conceivable mood, an experience that only strengthened my understanding we're all continually just passing through.

But enough of these airport dreams, even if it was O'Hare and just about the biggest anywhere, it would eventually be time to get serious about finding the gate that matched your ticket. Just time enough left to buy some candy, a wrapped lunch and reject the souvenir Cubs hats you'd been so thrilled to find just a few years before. Time to move along to this year's destination.

Without even checking your boarding pass you'd know you'd arrived at the right place the minute you saw all the backpacks with people slumping under the weight. For some reason backpacks, running shoes, baseball caps and birkenstocks were and still are the fashion items of choice for those returning to Oregon. Sigh.. It's a nice city, perhaps even the most Canadian city in the US, but it's a little boring.


I found this drawing today while tidying, an illustration for one of a few not very successful Portland stories I played around with last year. Since it may be just the thing for tacking over the grease spot that can't be scrubbed off the kitchen wall, I'll offer it as a prize to anyone who'd like to write a travel story. It can be long or short, posted as a comment or on your own blog (just tell me it's there) and I'll write your name down for a random draw one week from today.



Anonymous said...

As a well-worn traveler, I relate to this post in some many ways. These days flying is less the novelty is used to be for me. I don't even notice fellow passengers except for when they show up for a weekend excursion lugging their entire wardrobe, insisting it's carry-on luggage.

However, my airline experience as an adult could never diminish childhood memories visiting airports. Back then, Kennedy Airport was the place to see relatives arrive from or off to Puerto Rico. They would all fly Eastern Airlines (the 70s equivalent of JetBlue) and depart or arrive on the latest possible flight. You could visit the gate area, which I enjoyed a great deal because I got to see the airplanes up close. But my absolute favorite thing to do was run and slide across the tile floor of Eastern's huge terminal. It's too bad that these days most airline terminals are carpeted.

Scarlet W. Blue said...

Love the drawing. I always find your "crowd" scenes interesting with all the individuals depicted, each character having his/her own unique personality. Such talent.

Dr. Zaius said...

Oh, jeepers - I have to come up with a story!?!?!?

marja-leena said...

Enjoyed this post and drawing just after a long trip!

I still remember in my youth the feelings of excitement and longing for far places just visiting an airport and watching the planes take off and land. I've not done a huge amount of travel over the years but did quickly lose that feeling when faced with the ever greater challenges of security, long waits and HUGE terminals. Some airports are better that others but most have terrible food, unless you can afford the high end restaurants.

"...those returning to Oregon. Sigh.. It's a nice city, perhaps even the most Canadian city in the US, but it's a little boring." Is that Portland? Really?

La Belette Rouge said...

I LOVE the bathrooms at O'hare for the very reason you mentioned. OMG!! This drawing is hilarious and so accurate. The Starbux, the "keep Oregon weird" tee and all of it.

In a week it will be a year since I have been home to O'hare. I have a special place in my heart for that airport. I am off to dream wistfully of the approach into Chicago. Le sigh!

okjimm said...

HEY! You forgot all the exotic places in WI.... Like Eau Claire and LaCrosse and Oshkosh and Chippewa Falls and.... hold it.....I just got a reality check and it bounced. Never mind.

"....just to flush and watch the seat wrapping revolve to a fresh section."

Yuppers! Some folks know how to have a really good time when traveling. :)

linda said...

this was a fabulous travel story...I never do so have not one to tell you...maybe someday when I can stand airports and sitting and standing and waiting and taking my clothes off...the last time, I swore to my daughter and dh I would wear a trench coat to the place next time so as not to slow down the wait!

loved your drawing and your crunchy description of portland! ;)


linda said...

and NOTHING ELSE, in case you wondered....

Lisa said...

There was a time in my life when O'Hare seemed like a 2nd home down the street. I was traveling to such exotic locations as Minneapolis, DC, Atlanta and Springfield, Illinois.

I know it's cliche to say, but air travel just isn't as much fun as it was back in the "old" days.

And that trip to the bathroom without a real need is called "going for drill" in Golden-speak.

Lover of Life said...

Just drove 11 hours from Portland to Tahoe today. So I will have to give this one a try! I love Portland, and don't find it boring at all - considering the Gay Pride Parade this last weekend, and all the colorful characters. You just can't find them anywhere. Certainly not here!

Seraphine said...

they're called oregoners. Or-eh-goners.
it's ok to visit oregon if you're from california, they say, but don't stay. you'll drive up the price of houses. as if californians would be happy living in trees.
oregoners wear nikes because wearing heels is impossible. you'd sink into the soft loamy ground before you could reach the next microbrewery.
and forget open-toed shoes unless you waterproof your feet first with scotch guard.
dampness is an ecological wonder. Oregon is known for its slugs and beavers. oregoners all have curly hair. cars rust after the first year (but miracle of miracles, what kind of undersiding do they use on their roses?)
oregoners use backpacks to carry their yurts.
if you don't know what a yurt is, you aren't an oregoner. go back to california.

Randal Graves said...

Hey, no fair, some of us have barely traveled. ;-)

susan said...

spartacus - Flying isn't nearly the fun it used to be and considering my first flight was Toronto to Prestwick, Scotland in 1958 (propellers in a mid-range landing in Gander, Newfoundland before crossing the Pond) I guess I've got some experience too. It was fun going to the airports when you could stand outside to watch the planes land and they'd roll out the stairs as we waited for friends and relatives to descend.

scarlet - I'm flattered you like them especially since I know you have artistic skills of your own we 've seen only hints of.

dr. zaius - Yes, but I'm asking no more than a few words about any trip you've ever made.. could be anywhere and I'm sure you've been somewhere :-)

marja-leena - I used to fly a lot, especially back and forth to Toronto to see my parents from wherever I was living. It really ceased being fun on 9/12.. or whenever it was they allowed people on the planes again. Our son was visiting from Providence that week and the difference in the Portland Airport from one Saturday to the next was sobering.

belette - I used to encourage people who were flying through Chicago to be sure to use the bathrooms. It was a lot more fun being at that airport when everybody was allowed onto the concourses. Nowadays it's just harried travelers and no sightseers but it's still an exciting one. You will return, bien sur.

okjimm - Jeez, how could I have left out those exotic locales? Yes, I do know all the best places to go :-)

linda - One of my favorite uncomfortable memories was seeing a TIA officer feeling a baby's diaper and asking what he was carrying in there :-) :-) Seeing people stripping down to go through the sensors is a very disturbing event. I think your raincoat (with nothing else) is an excellent idea.

lisa - I envy you guys having lived in Chicago as long as you did. It's a very neat city and i love the big ones. Portland is a small town in comparison. 'Going for drill, I'll be sure to remember.

lol - Portland is cool to visit and I know many people are happy to have made their homes here but after more than 15 years of seeing so many of the really neat places get torn down to be replaced by skyscrapers, we're a bit tired. I kind of prefer older cities where so much blatant development is harder to get permission for. Europe is definitely best for that.

We're not parade fans - have never been to the Rose one and the only time we saw the gay Pride was the Sunday it first began and we'd gone to Powell's.. where we were stuck for three hours until the streets cleared :-)

susan said...

sera - Real Oregoners don't carry umbrellas and wear shorts in the coldest part of winter because they're always expecting a brighter day ahead. Good one :-)

randal - You mean you traveled naked?

Seraphine said...

i guess it's undercoating rather than undersiding that's used to protect cars, but hey.
i'm good with better days ahead. without illusions, everything would be depressingly post-reality.

René Wing said...

Northern California's not that far off and the "keep it weird" shirt would fit well here too... or maybe "keep it wild."

How about a travel quote instead of story, from Ralph Waldo Emerson, "...As a traveller who has lost his way throws his reins on his horse's neck and trusts to the instinct of the animal to find his road, so must we do with the divine animal who carries us through this world."

Sera's comment is funny... where I'm from, we always said "orragone..." but I must be in California now because my neighbor has a yurt. :)

okjimm said...

OH GEES! I got mail at Oblios! Stop by my blog for a hug, kiddo!!!!

Gary said...

Oooh, a travel story!

Gary Flies To?

When I was in my early 20's I did some traveling for travel's-sake. Not very unique in those days, but a wonderful time in so many ways.

At one point I was in Athens with a friend. Jim and I were both undecided about where to go next and were both trying to be in-the-moment (Be Here Now was very there-then...)

Here's what we did. We decided to pack our gear, hitch to the Athens airport and take the cheapest flight at 1:00 pm to wherever it was going. And we did and it was a $30 flight.

That's how I spent a month in Istanbul, the dark, smoky (very smoky if you know what I mean) Constantinople of old. The Topkapi, Turkish coffee, shady men in shady cafes, the labyrinth souk, the Bosphorus...a girl from California. Yes, it was a month to remember. And I didn't even end up in a Turkish prison!

That's my travel story and I'm sticking to it.

Seraphine said...

lol gary... a dark labyrinth and shady men, and a girl from california. i love it.
(i'm sure she remembers you too)

susan said...

rene - That works :-)

okjimm - Hah! Good, I'll be by.

gary - Glad you didn't get midnight-expressed. I'd still love to take a trip there - be neat to see the Blue Mosque as well.

sera - I bet she does too.

laughingwolf said...

no travel tales, susan... other than driving some 15 minutes to the breeder's home to pick up my pup wednesday afternoon, then driving him here... he's fighting one of his plush toys as i type ;) lol

susan said...

:D wolf - I'm delighted at the news. Does he have a name yet?