Why Does the Air and Water Show Bring Out the Worst in People?

There’s a party going on in the hallway of my building right now. You’d think it was New Year’s Eve. An invasion of drunken men are howling like dogs. Doors open and slam close and a young woman slurred “Oh my god, what are you doing out there?” All day long indecipherable house music throbs from the deck encouraging people to drink, swim, eat and swim some more as planes rip through the sky burning fossil fuels for their viewing pleasure. I don’t get it. People complain more about planes and airports than almost anything else on Facebook. There’s a shared feel-your-pain moment when someone posts ORD -> SUX, yet people come from all over to watch planes spin around in the sky at a deafening decibel?

When I was a teenager, my dad took me and my brothers to an air show in Cleveland. I was miserable. I can still remember standing in the guts of a huge WWII carrier plane listening to a bloated guy in a sweat-stained t-shirt tell his wife how much artillery one of these babies could hold. All I could think of was how scared those soldiers must have been to be sitting on that plane for hours flying over the Atlantic only to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere with orders to kill the enemy. How did we turn the invention of flight into a mechanism of death?

My favorite dreams are the ones where I can fly. There’s this exciting moment when I look down and see these knee-high black combat boots then I know if I just start to run and make one small leap, magic takes over and I will fly over the trees and into the clouds. I flew over the Arctic Circle once, taking every opportunity to slide across the icy glaciers before sailing into the frigid air again and again. The feeling of weightlessness and the wind rushing through my hair combined with the perfect stillness and focused direction it takes to remain in air remind me when I’m awake of what it is to be free of the one thing holding all of us down–gravity. I hope I have that dream tonight…if I could ever get some sleep.

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