I am sitting here, half a world away from my destination: Seoul, Korea. I am in the Korean Airlines Lounge looking across to the waterway that skirts the runway at JFK. In Korea it is half past midnight, August 5th. Here is it is not yet noon, August 4th, Eastern Daylight Time. I will go through an enormous afternoon in which Friday will morph into Saturday and I will step off the plane around 5 p.m. Saturday, fully convinced that I have taken a long summer's day into evening.
This is the miracle of travel, a phenomenon that makes us aware of the relativity of Time. Even on our little blue marble planet we experience time warping through space, the delay of Time filtered through the array of Space, slipping into dimensions of consciousness not fully comprehended, too easily dismissed as "jet lag."
My taxi to JFK was through a different time warp. The driver was pure Indian, with full Indian regalia, and he was intent on avoiding the bottleneck where the LIE joins the Cross Island Expressway. This took him on a journey past LaGuardia Airport, and I thought for a moment that I must have muttered the wrong airport as I recovered from the trauma of lifting and loading my extremely heavy bag into the trunk. Given the high humdity, there was a mess of fluids dripping from me and hitting the cold air conditioning of the cab like a miniature weatherfront.
"Are we going to JFK?" I managed, but the driver was silent, and in my weakened immune state, I began to imagine I was being abducted. Such moments are heady fantasies since it requires an audacious leap of faith that you are someone worthy of abduction... a boost to the old self-esteem...
I looked at all of the familiar ramp exits of LaGuardia and was thoroughly convinced I would never make it to Korea.
"Are you going to JFK?" I repeated, with somewhat more authority than before.
The driver glanced back at me and nodded.
There was surprisingly little traffic as we literally flew along the Van Wyck, usually the nemesis of every driver attempting to reach JFK by automobile.
And now, here I sit, listening to the distant roar of jets coming in and out of JFK, sipping some coffee courtesy of KAL and beginning the first Blog of my journey to the East, which amazingly takes me to the north and west to a world of serene mountains, robust people, beautiful lakes, and a city that never stops, but literally stretches out to the mountains all around in a pose of foreverness.
My friends in Korea are mostly asleep by now. I won't sleep for a whole day, because I can never sleep when I travel, but my psyche will pretend that it is just one long, beautiful day stretched out in the twilight of summer, and we can blame my drowsiness on the heat and the humidity.