AK 2010, Day 1: Getting There
AK 2010, Day 1:
It begins with bags that are too heavy, some fees, some shuffling around. It is followed by a delay on the tarmac; further delay on different tarmac. Hello, Detroit.
Then there are the hours: The hour staring at the woman who looks just like her dog—ears perked, pointy nose, an overall rust-colored tinge from head-to-toe/paw. The hour staring at the woman staring at the article about how to apply fake eyelashes. The hour of fashion trends as glimpsed in Concourse A: Pleated, faux-collar women’s blouses; bedazzled flips flops that make vacationers look like Egyptian wannabes; long scarves draped over women’s shoulders with an air of improv (and the truth of intention); too-bright cotton shorts with impossibly white shorts; for that matter—shorts (shorts that show butt cheeks, shorts that show butt cracks, shorts that fail in every possible way as shorts, shorts that never really should have happened in the first place).
Finally, there is Gate 70 with its fantastically Anchorage-bound array of people: No shorts. Functional scarves only. A man applying aloe to his swollen ankle. (Where did he get the aloe leaf? From his rucksack, of course.) Men in hats with beer labels. Men in hats with fly fishing labels. Men, men, men. Men with Patagonia backpacks. Men with glasses. Men with Macintosh computers, New Balance sneakers, five ‘o clock shadows, and shaggy, roan hair (yes, please). People reading books (no Cosmo). People in camouflage. Two curious people: A man wearing a Dallas Cowboys shirt and, there she is again, that woman with the dog.
We fly north and west for seven hours; sardines at 36,000 feet. We are swollen ankles, creaky knees, grumbling bellies. We careen across the sky, a glowing bullet reflecting the light of the sun that never, ever sets.
This is what I wait for: that moment where the mountains overtake the sky, where I can see the continent bend and break, where even with the keenest eye it is impossible to take it all in.