Friday, November 25, 2005

The Eyes of Romance

I've been cruising the 'net on my favorite website, Ebay, in my favorite section: Airline memorabilia. Vintage, that is.

I collect usable items from the airlines. Namely blankets, silverware (yes, it was real and it was silver-plated at one time) and carry-on bags. Over the years, I've amassed quite a collection, and like most collectors, never seem to get enough. There's always that rare, elusive piece you can't seem to get. Or you come close, only to lose it to someone who bid a penny higher in the last nanosecond of the auction. Bastards. Those are the worst.

My favorite, by far, is the carry-on bags. I use them when I travel. My girls use them as overnight bags. And they're as many and varied as you please. Some with colorful graphics of old-fashioned planes.

Tonight I got to wondering why I loved them so much.

One of the reasons is that the airlines used to give them away for free. And that certainly appeals to this cheapskate. Another is that I always used one as a bookbag for school.

But the biggest reason I love them is because when I look at them, I imagine packing for a journey. An overnight flight to Europe or Asia. Going places I've never been. Awakening to the smell of in-flight breakfast, with hot washcloths for your face.

People in the cabin stir after the long transatlatic flight. Window shades go up. The bright sun of a different world fills the aircraft and expectation and excitement perfumes the pressurized air.

In my mind I hear the changing sounds of the engine as we descend. I feel the thunk of the landing gear locking. I see the flaps raise and feel the plane slow. And I wait, breath hitched, for the touchdown on a foreign landscape.

Airline travel used to be a grand affair. I'm among the last of a generation who'll ever know that. We dressed up. Meals were served on real china with real silverware and we had thick, heavy wool blankets to keep out the stratosphere's chill.

When I was very young, we traveled in propellor planes. It took thirteen hours to get to New Mexico. When we stopped to refuel in Kansas, a big rolling staircase was pushed up to the plane and we went out on the tarmac in the fierce, hot midwestern wind.

Many hours of my life were spent in airports waiting to see if we'd get on the plane because we flew on free, employee passes. Back then you almost always got on - frequent flyer miles didn't exist.

Flying is an unbearably pleasurable thing for me. Almost as wonderful as sex. The smell of jet fuel, of cabin upholstery, of pressurized air, nighttime and the sky is orgasmic.

No matter how horrific airline travel has become, it'll always be romantic to me. It began that way in my young eyes. And those are the eyes through which I still view it.

So, what about you? What do you collect? Why? Is it because of romance? And will you ever get enough?


Blogger Bron said...

Must ask my mother if my old TAA (Trans Australia Airlines) bag is still downstairs at their place. If so, it's yours if you want it - assuming its still in reasonable condition. I'll let you know.

I can still remember the theme song from the 1960s and 70s -

"Up, up and away,
with TAA
The friendly, friendly way..."

The nickname for TAA was Take Another Airline.

November 26, 2005 3:42 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Hey Bron, I've seen some TAA bags and Ansett bags. Those are too dear for my pocketbook. I'd kiss you all over if you sent me one that'd been yours (and I'd pay the postage too!)

LMAO @ Take Another Airline. We had an airline called TWA and we said it stood for: Try Walking Across.

November 26, 2005 9:47 AM  
Blogger Charlie Horse said...

"Awakening to the smell of in-flight breakfast"

Ann you are the only person I know who fantasizes about airline food!

Do you like to collect models of the airplanes themselves? I have a friend who does that.

November 26, 2005 10:55 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Nah, Charlie. I have one of a Pan Am 707 that belonged to my dad, but I like to think of myself as a practical collector. I only acquire things I can use. Don't see the point otherwise.

And yeah, kinda sad about the food, huh? LOL. I've had the great fortune to travel first class alot on those cheap employee upgrades. But when you're outbound from Europe, as you probably know, even in coach the food is much better *gg*.

November 26, 2005 11:07 AM  
Blogger Bernita said...

I love take-off. The power. The defiance.That charge up into the sky.
I cringe on landings, feeling we waddle like a pregnant cow, and wonder if I'm going to unexpectedly meet that washing on the clothesline in the backyard, I see below, out the window.

November 26, 2005 2:56 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Bernita, take off totally rocks. My favorite part is that still moment as you round the corner at the beginning of the runway. Then the engines rev and the fuselage strains like a racehorse at the gate, and BAM, you barrel down the pavement.

I enjoy guessing when liftoff will occur.

November 28, 2005 11:18 PM  

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