June 19th, 2008 | brainjuice
In less than a week, I’ll be in Chicago. In fact, a week from now, I’ll be at the convention’s evening opening, nailed to a desk by Avatar and signing books for two hours. The one thing I’m looking forward to is the travel.
I love travelling. I love travelling alone. It is a Zen process. Even in these days of airport bullshit. It’s a method to be followed, details to be absorbed in. I travel with hand luggage only. Loose clothes, shoes I can slip off easily, no metal, a shirt with a breast pocket for passport and boarding pass, keys and change zipped into the luggage along with all devices before I check in. I’m off the cane right now, which makes things a lot easier. I always buy two books in the airport bookstore. Always smoke two cigarettes before I enter the airport. Always say hello and thank you to security — maintain the concentration to see that they’re people who do a job rather than faceless extensions of The Man. Never roll over, but never be anything less than reasoned and kind. Remember: you’re going somewhere interesting and they’re not.
I’ve been doing longhaul flights for fifteen years now, I’ve flown from London to Australia and back again, and I always, always lose an hour to just staring out the window. Being ten miles up will never lose its magic for me.
I confess to having a special gift. I can sleep like a baby on a plane. Before now, I’ve passed out an hour out of San Francisco and woken up in London. Which is, in itself, a magic trick — travelling five thousand miles without noticing.
Travelling without luggage means I usually leave an airport very quickly (unless it’s one of those airports like Atlanta that should just be bulldozed and redesigned by an actual human instead of the underground aliens who actually built that unfunctional monstrosity). Meeting a car or grabbing a cab tends to put me in a hotel room within an hour of leaving the airport. At a window with coffee and cigarettes, the local BBC channel on the TV, just taking in wherever it is I’ve appeared in before I go out and get the city under my feet.
Nothing more peaceful.