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Dispatches From New York - On Returning (again)

Another entry in the series in which a lifelong Miamian tries to deal with a place where there are no palm trees. Read more here. Or don’t, it’s cool.


The Saddest Mojito Stand

Very little of Miami International Airport is familiar despite the innumerable times I have been here. I’m walking through a terminal (don’t ask me which) while trying to pump blood through my legs while I still can.

All around me are kids with their faces buried in screens. Laptops, iPod Touches, Nintendos. I walk through waves of smooth jazz and turn off my iPhone’s antenna to save battery, the digital equivalent of girding my loins for the trial ahead of me. I find and make my choice for my final meal in Miami for a while:

I return to my gate to find my flight boarding early. I get in line with my pass in one hand and a cubano in the other, spilling flaky crumbs everywhere as I amble through the jetway.

In the seatbacks are more screens and a woman near me oohs as she selects her language with a poke of her finger. There are remotes in the armrest that have been made redundant by the touchscreens save for playing videogames that were dated when this system was installed and are only more so now. Currently my screen is showing a GPS map of the plane’s progress. Staring at it, I remember when the world’s mysteries were endless and traveling was an adventure rather than a chore.

I start to zone out and think about the last week, which was for all purposes the best holiday in recent memory.

My dad bought his wife season passes to the Arsct center for Christmas, meaning they were going to see every Broadway show that passed through town no matter how terrible. Case in point: they saw Beauty and the Beast together a few nights before I left, which was by all accounts excrutiatingly painful.

We discussed theater at some point while having beers on the patio and how different live performances are from film. Specifically, it’s amazing how much better a group of people going through a series of carefully calculated motions in real life can be. The consciousness of the stage and the frame it makes are so important that the concept transcends theater and finds use in talking about art, architecture and anything in which there is a presentation.

This is even more notable now in our world of screens. Here now, briefly then, and into the foreseeable future we now carry these small windows with us and prod them constantly. Forgoing human interaction for lozenges of comfort, the limitless for a limited proscenium.

At some point in this, the man sitting to my left asks me how I type so quickly with my thumbs into my iPhone. I smile without looking up and say too much practice before I continue. He begins meditating and I realize he’s nervous, and I realize I’m myself diving into my own escapism. We don’t utter another word to another the entire flight. After this point my trip back to NYC was completely uneventful.

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