23 January 2006


**This was written during the beginning hours of what turned out to be a 10 hour layover/delay**

Good. My flight arrived safely in Frankfurt, Germany around 730 am local time (1:30 EST). My next flight leaves in 4.5 hours to Copenhagen. So, I suppose there isn't much to do but wait. And read. And write.

I've always loved airports. There is something magical about endless tunnels and escalators and sidewalks that move themselves. Even more magical is the ability to disappear. In airports, you can blend in, become lost. Everyone sticks to themselves, everyone searching for a way out of this labyrinth through any number of gates.

I must say that in the first hour that I have spent in the airport, I have already realized just how American I am. In fact, the second I stepped off the plane onto the jetway, I felt in the minority. I clearly wasn't in America anymore, and no where near Kansas. And to be honest, I wasn't a huge fan. Granted, I'm sure that the sensation of being in an airport which is under construction and completely foreign to me contributed to my discomfort, but I'm afraid there was more to it than that. As I made my way through tunnels and hallways and trains, I realized two things. Firstly, those who complain about the Atlanta airport have clearly never flown into Frankfurt to catch a connecting flight. Secondly I realized that I was really nervous.

What's funny (in a strange, not haha, sort of way) is that part of the reason that I'm nervous is because I'm afraid I stick out like a sore thumb. I just know that the people sitting at gates B-11, B-12, and B-13, are secretly mocking me as I pass by, looking at one another, sneering "look at that dumb American." Clearly this is hyberbole; but, it has such feelings have significantly impacted my hour and a half here already.

For instance, I took me a good 30 minutes to finally muster up enough guts to make my way to the bathroom. Yeah. Why? Because it was all the way down at gate B-11 (I'm at B-13), and that meant I had to pack up my things, and walk down there in front of all these people. Then, I decided that I was hungry, so I went and bought a fruit salad and coke (because let's face it--there ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby). My coke, without ice, is divine. A little piece of home across the Atlantic. The fruit salad, on the other hand, is in some kind of container that is virtually impossible to open. Honestly, I have absolutely no clue how to open it. So I suppose I just won't eat my fruit. Because you know the second I go up to someone to ask if they could do it for me, they will think "Ha, we knew you Americas were stupid. You can't even open a plastic container holding fruit!" Well, maybe not is so many words, but the thought is there.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I've never really been a fan of Bush. Either one, for that matter. But, I'm fairly positive that the reason I'm so concerned about being IDed as American is because I worry that people will then automatically equate my beliefs to that man who likes to be called The President.

Maybe I'm experiencing these emotions as sort of a call to (1) make me aware of how other people of differing races, ethnicities, and nationalities feel when they are the outsider and (2) to make me want to break the stereotype--which, believe me, is my goal for the next 5 months...to be as non-American as possible.

On a completely different note, I had a really nice thought while our pilots were landing the gargantuan Airbus that had just crossed an ocean. I'm not sure how many of you have ever landed in an airplane while it was still dark outside. This was one of those landings. Not only was it dark, but it was cloudy too. After a full 8 hours of stargazing 40,000 feet in the air, our plane had to descend through a cloud cover that seemed to reach clear to the ground.

(Here comes the Religious Studies major in me).

As we were making that descent, I thought to myself that this flight is a lot like faith. You pray your not going to die, that you will make it safe and that everything will be OK. Then, you get to flying and everything is going alright and you become satisfied in believing that things will be OK--smooth sailing. But then comes the time when your faith is really tested, when you have to find solid land beneath you again. You start to make for the landing, pulling on past experiences and understandings. Suddenly, you are in the midst of clouds, lost and blind. The only thing to do then is to trust that the runway will appear. And it always does.

We have to have faith like that. We can quote verses, state opinions, and debate theology all day long, but when landing time comes, there's not much else to do but believe that the runway is beneath you.


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