Looking around these sterile surroundings at the motley crowd I am part of, I find myself passing judgments in web-like combinations oscillating between curiosity and self-identification; knowing (or thinking) this could be it. My fellow passenger could kill me—but then we’d all die, myself and all the other people in this line (this is beyond profiling, foregoing the preparation for militancy, toward surrender). This means that in such a situation, a kind of bond is formed. An existential family that, like the other kinds of kinship, must be endured and appreciated while in existence and that, when we die together, will live on in one form or another. Group portrait of misfortune and unpredictability.
I can look around and feel something for these people and project narratives onto their expressions, clothes and luggage, onto their futures (which are now linked) and think, I could get to know you for the rest of my short life on this tiny utopian shuttle in the sky. Our common fate, which we approach calmly, eclipses the differences between us and by this turn those judged as our antagonists in this larger superficial society, our competitors, those who arouse or repel us, who make us aware of our lack, become the temporarily unforesakeable members of our family. The feeling of threat from these strangers attenuates and we can imagine a new airplane politics of mutual respect and mutually assured destruction, preferring nobody. Where once was a mask whose grotesque aura of annoyance could only get in the way of my resolving my own annoyance, now is a countenance reflecting its tacit and personal wishes, its relations of tenderness, among which, by the end, I will also count.
Except of course for the regimentation of seating and the issue of classes, service roles and the overwhelming power of the machine itself. To imagine tearing out the seats and sitting on the rumbling carpeted floor in a chaotic gathering clustered of affinities would furthermore suggest the foreknowledge of an exceptional situation, one that the passengers simply would not accept. Alas the bond of misfortune could hardly alter how our solidarity is expressed.
Keegan lumbered in and squeezed in next to the pill-shaped window. He was a big ex-soldier (Afghanistan), and he took up my armrest, and I was bothered by him from the beginning. Groaning about his sweating bottom or the wailing babies who deprived him of sleep, he suffered from a hangover from the Contiki tour he had just finished. A last blast for his brother who had been in 2 car crashes in 3 days back in Canada. I did feel sorry for their misfortunes. I held my elbows in and propped up my thick book, passing over the same page distractedly over several hours, this is a great film he said of the Mark Whalberg image on our little independent screens. Later he showed me some photos on his I-phone of the cities he hated, and the fun he had. Toward the last 2 hours we got into a disagreement over conspiracy theories, look on the Internet he urged, the zionists are spraying poison over the crops in planes just like these. He asked me to smuggle a bottle of vodka through customs for him, which I agreed to; then becoming impatient as I waited at the luggage belt, he took it back and walked out. We both ended up having our bags searched by overzealous small town inspectors, I tried to hide behind a pillar so he wouldn’t look back and roll his eyes. I can now only imagine Keegan complaining as our airplane fell into the North Atlantic.