Airplane friendships. Not airPORT conversations. Those might actually end up with social contacts or business deals.
I'm talking airPLANES. We all have had conversations on a plane that we would never had in real life. With the people we really know. Airplanes are safe. Not safe from danger. Nothing in life is safe from danger. Accidents do happen - every where. Not just in planes. Airplanes are safe places for friendships and conversations.
Some flights are better than others: clean, nice people, not too crowded. Others? Dirty, crowded, crying babies. However, no matter what flight we are on - we are all primal. The business executive walking around in his socks. The news anchor, with the night mask and neck brace. Walking around - with socks on. Head phones on. Laughing to different movies, pretending not to watch the others. All headed to the same city - all with different destinations.
The person sitting next to you. You tell them your deepest, darkest, happiest, craziest thing about your life. Chances are? You will NEVER see this person again. EVER. I've flown a lot of flights. Only once have I seen someone I sat next too - we had a date a week or so later when he was back in town. Other than that? NEVER. The the thing is, I think everyone knows it. I've heard stories I know no one else has ever heard either.
September 11, 2001, I was stranded in Los Angeles. I was supposed to fly home that day. Back to Denver. It was a short business trip. I was a "Class II" passenger allowed to fly home Friday, after the Tuesday of Nine Eleven. Class One flew home on Thursday. Class II - I had a return ticket, I wasn't "stranded in an emergency landing". Basically, the first return flights. A guy whom worked for me dropped me off at a hotel. There was no airport drop-off allowed. They shuttled me from some hotel parking lot to LAX. Before that we had stopped at a drug store to buy over-the-counter muscle relaxer (Doane's backache relief). I was a little tense.
There were armed guards at LAX. The planes that all crashed were headed to LAX.
As I sat at LAX, I remember looking around at the people. I remember thinking:
- If the theory is correct, we are all connected by 6 people.
- In theory, everyone sitting right here. Right now, is connected.
TRULY? We continue to tell people on this plane secrets?
I also remember I wasn't sure if I had the courage to get on the plane. Though I knew, it would be safer that day than it would ever be again. Aren't those always our fears? Are we brave enough?
But see, on the plane, we don't have to be brave. We have to be instinctual. We have to trust the person next to us, to take our insecurities. Make us safe.
The plane ride home from LAX was quiet. Still primal. An undercover Air Marshall was on that flight. There were only 20 of us - all gathered in one little section. We all told stories. We all shared fears. We shared hopes. No one said too much though. Hoping this time we all had at least one destination in common.