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I sit on a dirt road in the driver's seat of my car with the heat going full blast and it's snowing just a little but the planes are taking off anyway in the distance. The airport glows white and orange, reflecting peaks on the clouds above it that curl down in apocalyptic Van Gogh brush strokes.
I watch planes take off and smile. I wonder how many unhappy lovers there are aboard each one. How many children sleeping with their head and one arm and spit trail on the softly vibrating window. How many pressing palms against the thick glass in awe of the city lights twinkling like a mirror universe beneath them, symphony of light pollution.
At the old airport you could pull right up to the runway and have sex in the half lit night in the back of a pick up truck while the monolithic bodies of the airplanes pressed down against you, swollen bellies, beating props and lighted windows passing in a blur of silver and orgasm. No longer though. I can get no closer than maybe 5000 feet or so, confined to a distance by a 20 foot fence and squat man peering at me from the protection of a wood toll booth/lean to structure which presumably serves as a guard house.
I smoke a cigarette and watch planes take off. The clock says 2:45 but it's seven minutes fast, and somehow the city seems poised and hopeful on the brink of dawn (even though it is a long way off still). The clock say 2:45 and that means nothing to me except it is probably time for another silver red and blue United to take off and point itself eastbound; there is the mostly empty and half forgotten red eye to O'Hare, Kennedy, Dulles, Newark, etc. etc.
I think of airport food and airport security, airport parking and airport bathrooms. Perhaps how grateful I am that these things exist in the first place and 1700 miles can be reduced to six hours, just like that, in a big metal bird hanging from invisible strings made of aerodynamics from a glowing orange sky. Planes are still kind of magic, aren't they? I feel like a toddler every time I watch one turn its nose up and rise as if lifted by the hand of some invisible god.
I am sitting on a dirt access road marked "no through traffic" and there is that suspicious security guard stepping out of his little wooden shack, all bundled up in a heavy winter parka that reveals not much more than the whites of his eyes. To him I am a car bomber, most likely, and I am halfway surprised he hasn't called the police. Or maybe he has. But until they show up I loiter a few hundred yards from the tarmac, chain smoking and fantasizing about the plane I would hop if I were in the habit of hopping planes.