Airports have this casual affluence to them. People rustling about in leisure wear that's just a little too nice to be considered a track suit. In the endless lines for security and customs and all the little declarations that slowly wear on ones paranoia, everyone is clutching expensive active executive totes and tactical all weather jackets that are too Military Grade to be considered something as civilian as a 'jacket', elements shell, maybe.
Nobody outside a visiting dignitary or a tourist from Scandinavia could fail to feel suspect about themselves after all the official and unofficial scrutiny. The forms, the people in official uniforms, endless cautionary signs warnings for explosives and drugs and non-indigenous produce.
It's maybe a little better with kids, people usually give you the benefit of the doubt. You don't always have a lurking suspicion that maybe you are some sort of Manchurian Candidate ne'er do well.
Past all that there is no doubting how mundane this has all become. Flying. Getting to pretty much anywhere in the world if you have enough money and a high tolerance for millenial trustifarians talking about their eco-adventure-fairsource startup. You can tell by how put upon and harassed people look. If we were taking a tourist orbit of the sun you can bet there'd be far less bickering about gate departure times, shoe removal, and why a super big gulp is hardly the correct choice for a 7 year old.
We are going to Australia, stop over in the US. And you can guess which part of the trip fills me with a nameless, spleen twisting dread. And it's not the part about flying at hundreds of miles an hour in an aluminum crate flew more by software than brains over a trackless, hungry ocean.
Maybe it's part of the national identity that is so adversarial. A country born of rebellion, drunk on the constant contesting of sports, of political parties, ideals, culture. One can hardly imagine a country more fit to breed soldiers, or lawyers.
And yet when you look at everyone travelling, expensive casual wear notwithstanding, we're all remarkable similar. Misshapen, a little overweight, vaguely anxious, fuddling through life hoping for the best. The high drama and epic battles over the soul of the country don't seem to be anywhere but talkshows.
This fact calms me somewhat, but I'm nervous and worried by nature. Projecting a laid back calm by only two things. First is that as a lifelong Pacific Northwester, such a trait is my birthright. Second is I just assume the worst has already happened. A nihilist prescription, maybe. Pretty great for the blood pressure, though.
The kids, thankfully, are blissfully ignorant of all the various things we as parents worry about. Crossing the border, the many MANY poisonous organisms in the land where even the comical genetic crapshoot of the platypus has a fatally poisonous spur.
Most of the drama surrounds candy. Whether they can have it, if so, how much, how long until they can have it again. Then time. How much longer is the line, how much longer til lunch, the plane. The updates and negotiation keep that nagging worry that they'll say something: in retrospect hilarious , in the present, mortifying, that'll end with me in a windowless room answering questions about my political affiliations and that one time I shared a Mother Jones article on private prisons on Facebook.
And then we are through. And the airport is just a well lit luxury mall with, what I assume, are FAR too many newstands.( A non-trivial percentage of magazines have to be sold in airport newstands.i can't say with any confidence that I've ever seen anyone actually read a magazine outside of say, a waiting room, maybe?).