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Airport Blogging

June 20, 2012

9:27 PM
I am writing this from Dulles Airport. I got here at about 5:30 PM, not too long after the departure of my flight. I will be here until 5:50 AM. This is the record of my descent.

9:47 PM
A middle-aged man with incredibly bright fluorescent yellow shows sat opposite me. I am surprised they allowed these shoes through security. Even with the smoked glass of the Dulles windows, through which I took long glances at the sun earlier in the day with barely any discomfort, these shoes could project enough dazzle to blind approaching pilots. They shift, shimmer, and pulsate in my field of vision like the afterimages following a severe beating in a cartoon universe.

9:54 PM
Phew, he got up and left. At least that’s what I think happened. The brilliance of the shoes made it impossible to make out the movements of the man. The camouflage is perfect; he is an anti-ninja. In any case the glare is gone, the seat empty.

10:09 PM
Where is the action in this airport anyway? Concourse D is just totally dead tonight.

10:29 PM
A doorway to the secret parts of the airport has opened up next to me, with orange-vested hardhatters coming in and out. I hear drilling, hammering, smashing. Orange stanchions stand sentinel. Big sheets of something constructive are being pulled around. Things are picking up.

10:36 PM
In an airport, it is very difficult to find any place out of earshot of either piped-in easy-listening or a cable news channel. This is because airports are run by sadists.

10:44 PM
Even the combined talents of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Catherine Zeta-Jones were not sufficient to wring life out of airport living. What hope do I have?

10:52 PM
I thought I had Brian Eno’s Music for Airports on my ipod, but no such luck. I am listening to his Apollo Atmospheres and Soundtracks instead, but it is just not quite right.

11:28 PM
Dulles is famous for its unique system of shuttles. Known as Mobile Lounges, these transports have in fact been entirely inadequate for lounging since the end of the 70’s, when the cabaret singers and wet-bars were removed and smoking banned (and why does the robot lady over the terminal loudspeaker have to repeatedly remind us that this is a non-smoking area? It is fucking two thousand and twelve, who has not figured that out by now? Who was just about to light up when he heard that timely announcement? “Damn, really? Glad you told me, robot lady, or I might have faced a severe chastisement and possible fine!”) Nonetheless, any visitor to the airport should not miss out on the chance to ride on one of these wonders of the future as it was envisioned in the past. But the inter-concourse question has a whole new answer at Dulles that I strongly recommend to the bold: the underground train, or subway, system. The key to getting the most out of your train ride is to get into the first car, so you look out through the front window as you zoom through the tunnels. It is like a roller-coaster for cowardly troglodytes.

11:39 PM
The nearby jackhammering is starting to get on my nerves. Reluctant as I am to give up my claim to the outlet that is powering these reports, I must move on. Maybe head over to concourse C. Who knows what wonders await me there? I wasn’t really paying attention when I passed through a couple of hours ago.

12:39 PM
Fortunately both Chex Mix and Peanut M&M’s were on sale at the downtown CVS and I stocked up before I left. On top of a substantial meal at the airport Five Guys that should be enough to keep me fueled throughout this saga. Sleep is a greater problem, as I got very little last night. The combination of sleep deprivation and the soul-crushing inhumanity of the airport is something I cannot be sure I will survive with my sanity intact. Please excuse any incoherence or — god forbid — typos in these notes. It is not a matter of carelessness or ill-education but rather the visible manifestation of personal disintegration.

12:50 PM
Only five more hours. No problem, as long as I can keep the hallucinations at bay. (The lady robot requests us to “please extinguish all smoking materials.” I am unable to comply, having no smoking materials on hand. I would like to comply — her voice makes me melt. I want to curl up safe and warm and sleeping against her bosom, however cold and electrical it may be.)

1:33 PM
Seeking a short cut to Nirvana, I have been watching Short Cut to Nirvana on Netflix. A documentary about a big Hindu festival. Not such a good movie, but it’s got freaky yogis and shit in it. Netflix is threatening to pull it from Watch Instantly today, so you might have to take the long way.

2:25 PM
A boy of six or seven skips along with his mother. For him this is a great adventure, to be up and at the airport at two in the morning. And for me too, as I am no different, except for for the skipping; the total failure of my maturity is inescapable under harsh fluorescents of this place. Perhaps I should become a sadhu of the airport, a wandering mendicant of terminal life, never leaving this recirculated air or these carry-ons. More than the holy man who keeps his arm constantly raised above his head or the one wraps his penis around a stick and pulls cars around with it or the one sitting on the bed of nails, he who could make a home in this place of perpetual light and sound and chemical clean would be supremely strong in spirit. And yet, though it is not easy to discern, here too dwell the gods.

3:10 AM
After three, time for some exploring. It is at this hour that the rarest and shyest of the Dulles fauna come out to play. If I hide in play sight, Chex Mix at the ready, I might catch sight of a few.

4:20 AM
I have found a spot free from Muzak and CNN, with an outlet and a passing parade of humanity. A slow and sparse parade, mostly just a few members of the cleaning crew. I saw one woman riding the escalator in a crouch, with her arms outspread, holding cloths in her hands; she was cleaning the metal edging of the escalators and it was astonishing and beautiful to see.

But I cannot possibly convey the wonder of this place in the middle of the night. It is a thrill to be here. I can hardly believe that I ever dreaded the prospect of spending the night. Now, dawn seems too near. It will soon all be over, the day will return, and I will crash, real hard.

The skipping boy just passed by, still bouncing along. He hasn’t crashed yet. He’s still living the dream of Dulles.

4:43 AM
Yes, the ecstasy I felt between three and four is fading fast, the magic moment gone. The boy just came by again and he is still skipping, but I can barely move my fingers around the keyboard. I am listening to Donna Summer but it’s not really helping. It’s morning. That can’t be denied. I just saw a dachshund, for God’s sake. Not unaccompanied, that might have happened an hour ago, would have been no surprise then, but this dog was leashed to a woman, who was taking him to the Service Animal Relief station just across from me, though this was no service animal.

4:50 AM
Just an hour left now until my departure time. I’ll miss this place. I have been through here countless times, but I never knew it for itself until now. I suppose I’d better head on over to gate D32, to Denver, to El Paso, to the high desert of New Mexico. It is time to move on. Over such beauty as this none may linger.

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