Airports; Good Sanctuaries For The Soul

October 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

It’s funny how certain things trigger the memory, and send the imagination off on pleasant tangents. A private jet flew over the moon tonight, its red and green lights flashing through the clouds. The red and green of those lights took me back in an instant to my childhood room, which happened to be in the flight-path of Laguardia airport, and was like a front-row seat before the spectacle of giant airliners swerving in on their approach. I’m quite sure I’m not exaggerating when I remember them flying right by my 7th story window. But memory is like that, magnifying and minimizing and filtering experience as suits its narrative game.

That memory in turn, transports me to another in which I am at an airport, transfixed by the roar of turbines and large machines, watching wide-eyed as jumbo jets taxi on the runways under glaring lights.  I am 5 or 6, a visitor is departing, I can’t remember who. I am in a state of delighted awe at the loudness of this landscape, noisy with light and sound and motion that pushes the night backwards into the surrounding darkness. A sphere of humming activity in the hours I associate only with sleep. It is the place where people go to depart this world, where they are launched toward the faraway shapes of color that appear on maps.

Airports still strike me as good metaphors for the journeys and the points of transit that the human soul must eventually embark upon. Flat open spaces with good visibility, allowing for infinite views. Large sanctuaries for the souls that have gathered there to wait for unseen forces that will carry them off.

The landing sites for alien ships that people transpose onto desert buttes are also metaphors for the sacred places where their souls will wait for their god to come at the appointed time and pick them up and shuttle them into the next world. Points of transit between this world and the landscape of their dreams. Which is also a good description for the transporting powers of those memories that take us almost all the way back to places near the beginning.