Brigadoon Air

Brigadoon Air
: Of course, I made it. I took my first flight since September 11th and landed in Denver today. I wanted to kiss the ground — a full Pope.

Since I have not flown since before the attacks, I had not seen all the changes that have overtaken American travel. Seeing them all in one day is striking, sobering, angering, scary.

The top floor of the airport is now filled with gigantic machines that should be finding cancers in bodies instead of sniffing bombs in bags.

The security checkpoint is as wide and elaborate as the Staten Island Ferry terminal. I didn’t expect to be seated so I could take off my shoes and dangle my legs. I wondered why I had to undo my belt and had visions of strap-on bomb circuits. I was glad that these people wore the seal of our government and carried its authority. I appreciated the guard’s stamp on my boarding pass: “Home of the Brave.”

The crowds inside the airport were much thinner than I remembered: fewer travelers, no families greeting them, less hubub, less happiness.

I laughed when I unwrapped my silverware and with the shiny fork out dropped a white, plasic knife.

I just stared at the steel mesh that now covers the cockpit door, like the bars on windows in a bad neighborhood.

Damn, they changed things, those bastards.

I admit that in anticipation of this long flight, my stomach was shot with nerves yesterday, my dreams and daydreams were violent. I could not erase the images from my mind: I saw again the jet exploding inside the tower again; I try not to see that. I thought again about the parents inside it holding their children, mortally sad. I look at that steel-reinforced door and envision the storming of those cockpits, the the murders. All this has evolved from terror of terrorism into general fear of flying for me as I keep hearing more about the final moments of the Columbia: falling from the sky.

I know it’s all neurotic, but it’s neurosis with cause.

I told people the last few days that I was flying for the first time today and what surprised me was that they didn’t look at me like a loon when I looked nervous. They’ve all been nervous, too. It’s not just me. It’s all of us.

They did it to us. Bastards.

Now I just have to get home. When I do, I’ll kiss my wife and kids.