Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sometime in nowhere

I knew that an excursion into the world of Genghis Khan was a “timeless adventure,” but I didn’t take that phrase so personally.

I’m not really sure where I am. I’m not sure what time it is and I’m not really even sure what day it is.

There is little map of the Pacific Ocean on the video screen staring at me from the seatback on this Korean Airlines jumbo jet. The little picture of a plane is hovering over what I seem to recall is the Kamchatka Peninsula. Hmm. Isn’t that where the Russians shot down a Korean Airlines jumbo jet a few years ago?

So am I in Russia, or just a part of that cartoon airplane on the map? I think for now my home is Seat 23E, a reasonably comfortable cocoon tended by a bevy of graceful and bilingual ladies bearing plastic cups of orange juice. A Korean girl who just finished her junior year at an Austin high school is dozing on my right. She’s going home to visit her parents. Next to her is an older Korean-American woman who is even more talkative than me – I know she is from Orlando, doesn’t like CNN and told me her three all-time favorite preachers. I had a hard time politely coming up with a list of my own. I don’t think the old guy on the bench in front of Tiger Barber counts.

The lucky fellow with the aisle seat to my left installs scoring devices on bombing ranges. He has expensive earphones, quickly dismissed the video games on our seatback screens and has whipped through a couple of movies since we boarded. Not much you can say to someone wearing a sound-deadening Bose headset. He lets me get out when my kidneys wake up, though. And at least he won’t complain when I snore.

But I can’t get a grip on time. I’m like the cartoon fellow in those educational cartoons, rocketing through space while a clock back home doesn’t move. I think I crossed the International Date Line for the seventh time in my life while dozing awhile ago. The seatback video map says it is 20:31 at Departure and 2:32 at Destination. But not MY departure – I started in St. Louis, not LA . Nor MY Destination – Seoul is just a dinner stop before we head to Ulaanbaatar. So what time is it in Seat 23E? Between the 24-hour clock on that video screen, the darkness in the cabin and the fact that I could eat, sleep or pee at any hour anyway, I don’t have a clue.

That’s kind of nice, really. I’m not anywhere or any time in particular.

I just am.

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