Not Here, Not There

By A.J. Llewellyn

My good friend, the yummy model Adam Killian, is a persistent traveler. Getting on and off planes is a daily thing for him. Until I got my dog 15 years ago it was for me, too. Now, everything has to be planned, and saved for.
When I first moved here in the 80s from my native Australia, I lived like Adam. I traveled extensively and have probably seen more of the US than most Americans have. In those days a wonderful–alas, defunct–airline existed called The People’s Express. Looking back it was hilarious. You took your suitcase on board and it sat in the aisle next to you. You paid for your ticket on board.
99 bucks one way. It was packed, it was chaotic and I wonder now about the safety standards, but anyhoo, I flew everywhere. I picked a different city each weekend. There were no snacks, no movies, no niceties, but it was bloody fantastic. And then for some mysterious reason it went belly-up.
I am getting ready to fly to Honolulu this morning. It is the land of my dreams. Like many Hawaiians-at-Heart, I am filled completely when I land and bereft immediately upon departure again. It’s hard to believe that a few short weeks ago a few close friends talked me into going.
I had no intention of leaving my beloved, and elderly dog, but the truth is, I really need the break. I have a great dog sitter and the lure of showing three wonderful people My Hawaii is proving irresistible. Not only have they never been there but Ruth. Lynne and David are my kind of travelers. They want to see Oahu’s sacred places and meet my favorite Goddess, Pele.
For weeks the emails have been going back and forth until we decided. We all have things pulling at us to stay home but this is what we need. It’s not The People’s Express, but the spirit is there, willing us to be free…fly!
It’s interesting however that in the day leading up to this trip I’ve been in a kind of limbo. Not here, not there. I am somewhere in between. A boarding gate that feels both good and bad.
I worry about my pets, about taking time away from work. I worry about random, obscure fears and can’t help being mindful that the anniversary of 9/11 is next week. My plan is to visit the military cemetery, Punchbowl, the Cemetery of the Pacific. Hawaii has endured more losses in the war against terror than any other state. her cemeteries are filled. I will take a lei to a fallen soldier I do not know and thank him for his priceless gift.
I called my friend Lynn last night and asked how she was feeling. She and her husband David were waiting, just like me. It’s a strange waiting room in which we’ve dwelt. Perhaps as we’ve gotten older, travel has become such a luxury we taste and savor every moment, even the waiting and preparations to travel.
This time 10 years ago I was waiting to fly to New York to see Mike Tyson fight at Madison Square Garden. Those plans were derailed by the attack on the twin towers. I was lucky. As we all know, so many were not.
So I will happily exist, not here, not there, knowing that so many others are not. I will wallow in this day of travel, and feel humbled that I am in fact, thanks to the sacrifices of men and women I have never met, free to fly.
Aloha oe

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