It was the first flight for the couple in the seats in front of me. They seemed like people who enjoyed food; a lot. Or people who used to enjoy food at some point in their lives. And now food seemed to enjoy them. It had become part of them and went wherever they went.
The plane was small and the tiny crew had obviously spent some good moments together at some point, so everything felt welcoming, despite the typical shortages. “What would you like today? Mini pretzels, cookies, soda or wine for $8?”
The man and his girlfriend played a game on their tablets. It was a simulation game about being a restaurant manager, or maybe a diner chain manager. All the choices available on the menu looked actually pretty horrible. The game rewarded the “managers” for making bulk purchases of sandwich ingredients and corn syrup sweetened beverages for the soda fountain. Day after day the restaurant chain seemed to attract more and more customers who consumed more and more virtual meats and breads and liquid sweets.
Outside of the plane window, gigantic cloud formations assembled themselves into more and more fantastic shapes, as the light of the sun turned warmer and warmer towards the end of the day. We were so tiny compared to the massive edifices made of water droplets and dust. The complexity of the plane we were in seemed completely irrelevant compared to what was happening all around us. And in a way we were an element of it all anyway. Molecules that had been pulled together in more or less intelligent ways to be able to move from place to place, today, this minute, with a rational purpose and the predictability of a time table and a balance sheet.
The landscape below began to turn from large compounds surrounded by massive amounts of trees, to small trees surrounded by many more and more houses. Humans enjoyed the company of other humans, and once the system went beyond a certain threshold, the density turned nature into properties into parcels into square footage on top of other square footage, available per day. Once formation of red brick “machines for living”, set right next to a cemetery, a “machine for the dead” appeared, we were very close to landing in LaGuardia. From there it was just another hour or so to get home, reached by a car driven by a man in a yellow shirt and a brownish tie. He complained about taxis and cops and the city in general. He complained about the time of day, and the time of the year, and the times overall.
The sun set on the other side of Manhattan. And long after the sun had set, I was holding a tiny wooden object, created by someone very skilled, over a decade ago in Japan, filled with a distilled liquid pulled out of grain somewhere in Colombia last year. I had just watered the semi wild tree, as it was almost dead after five days without water. And I looked out east, towards the invisible stars and the planes getting ready to land a few miles from here. Soon the sun would return, it would emerge at a predictable spot over the horizon, and I September would be another day closer.
In the larger context of things not much has changed. Everything has changed.