grand canyon

15 02 2009
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.

Public Domain. Credit information: NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.

It was one of those breakneck mornings.  I’ve done this to my children.  I am at fault.  It looks as if we’ve not a care in the world till the clock hits some invisible mark and then all hell breaks loose.  The snowy unplowed roads didn’t help us get to the airport any faster.   Screeching to a halt in the drop-off zone as if I were a stunt driver from “The Italian Job”, I popped the trunk from inside, he hopped out and the clock on the dash board told me his flight was to take off in exactly 64 minutes.

Living in a mid-sized city, 20 minutes from the airport, makes us dare devils.  When you are professional globe trotters as are some in this tribe, it is not romantic to be at the airport one second longer than absolutely necessary.  And even though it gets me everytime – thinking that one of these boys is going to be told, “Sorry the flight is closed.  You should have been here 10 minutes ago,” we have a track record to the contrary.

Only once, because of our own doing with four of us misreading an itinerary, have those fateful words been uttered.  The occasion was three 20-somethings headed to NYC for a birthday celebration weekend and plans were nonchalantly rearranged  to catch a later flight.

After years of doing this kind of thing, we have gotten pretty savvy about how airports work, why O’Hare should be avoided at all costs, how much time is really needed between flights, etc.  As soon as I laid eyes on Best Boy’s itinerary, I knew what I knew: 45 minutes to land (maybe on time) on a snowy Saturday in February , wait for that sweet little old lady that never travels struggle to get her suitcase out of the overhead compartment, stand on one foot and then the other waiting for her to finish chatting it up with each flight attendant, de-plane, high-tail it over two concourses and board another flight – was going to be a “Hail Mary” play.

I hadn’t been home long when my phone buzzed out a text requesting me to forward him the flight numbers of later departures out of ORD because it was past the scheduled departure time here in the tundra and they’d not even boarded the plane yet.  Fractions of that precious 45 seemed to be vanishing before the trip ever started.   One of the only advantages to flying through ORD is that there are flights going everywhere all the time, if they aren’t grounded or hopelessly delayed and overbooked.  So he had his choice of at least three potential flights that would land him at LAX before sundown on the west coast should he fail to make the connect.

I also sent him a graphic of the airport gates so that nano seconds wouldn’t be wasted trying to follow confusing signage.  I was able to go on to and see just when they were supposed to be leaving and the actual time that the tires were in the air. With a close eye on the clock, one on the computer screen I was even able to text him a last minute arrival gate change which would affect his “route”.  Then I waited just the right amount of time and sent the message.  “Let me know when you’re at gate…if you make it.”

Back came his answer, “Yup-barely:)” – glad to be on the intended flight and on his way to the Hollyhood for a week’s worth of shooting.  Hours later I pull up the real time tracker and watched as the magic bus crossed the Grand Canyon.  It is gorgeous from the air with the sun starting to slant…I’m jealous.

This world is their world.  Mine started with party line telephones, no internet, no computers – yikes…not even color TV!  Here we are making technology work for us.  I rather like seeing where he is right now.

I enjoyed a quiet afternoon with no TV, no radio, no frantic packing; just time spent reading essays written by a college friend about her family’s life as commercial fishermen in Alaska.  Living alone on an island for four months in the summer, her life is so vastly different than mine.  One of her pieces was about getting their first telephone and the changes it brought their way – some good, some bad.

Change.  Progress.  Technology.  Not always good.  Not always easy.  But movement in millions of directions at once.  It got me thinking about how different my life is from hers but then that is true for all of us.  Do you ever stop long enough to think about the variations on the theme of just trying to survive and make a living? We are all doing the same thing but none of us are doing it in exactly the same way.

And all these changes and movements and progress over the course of our lives, the lives of our children and our parents, and on and on.  Had we been around to watch, we may not have even noticed the impercetable changes in the landscape day after day by that trickle of water that now can’t be missed from outerspace looking like a giant crack in the earth.

For as hard as it is to see all change as good – maybe we’ll be able to look back years from now and see a different kind of beauty carved into the rock face of today’s world by technology.  Only time will tell – like a few million years.

And by the way, is it just me, or is there something Grand Canyonesque about the terminal layout at ORD?