January 10th, 2011 | by Nathan | Published in Uncategorized
FlightStat’s flight tracker tool (great for terrorists!) is telling me that my flight, DL2719, is currently over Rose City, Michigan on the border of the Huron National Forest. Sounds nice. There are probably snow-covered trees glinting in the dawn light and all that. But up here in the plane, it still smells like La Guardia airport–vaguely flatulent, with hints of Fritos and old gum.
It’s also early: my babies would be just waking up back in New York, coughing like seals, giving out hugs, and demanding just the right mix of Rice Krispies and Kashi.
I know, I sound a bit melancholy, but that’s always been part of travel, even before I had kids. You pack a toothbrush and some clothes and gird yourself for that rare mix of midair feelings: anticipation for what awaits you at wheels-down, a little tug from what you left behind at wheels-up.
So forget the marvels of being able to actually blog those feelings through Go-Go onboard wifi, or being able to tell you fine people my hyper-current flight location (in the time that it took me to write these two paragraphs and screw around a bit on email, I have overflown Michigan and am now above the Great Lakes). The true fascination is that these are probably the same inchoate regrets and excitements that fathers who travel have had since they were riding mastodons away from the cave (that didn’t really happen, did it?)
A word about what I’m doing, and why I’ll be somewhat scarce until later this week. Over at Time.com I’ve been weighing in on the shooting tragedy in Tucson–first by calling out the peddlers of hate speech and then by asking a simple enough question: why are the mentally ill still able to buy guns? We spend so much time beefing about the Second Amendment that the simple bureaucratic steps of keeping and sharing accurate records gets lost. But the magazine needs more than phone-reporting, so I’m headed to Tucson to see what can be seen and write what I can write. I only have a day and a half, and already I know that, thanks to the media scrum heading to Arizona and tonight’s BCS championships, there are no rental cars for hire anywhere in Phoenix. So I will be heading to Tucson by burro.
But still, it’s a good assignment. I spent a fair amount of time in Pima County last year reporting on immigration, and I’m glad to be going back. The roughest part is right now, on the plane, before I have phone calls and burro rides and all the other logistical distractions. There’s not much to do except do some research on the web and tell you all that I miss my kids already. And that I’m now 30,000 feet above the (presumably) delightful Green Bay suburb of Seymour, Wisconsin.