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Paula I Arraiza

Airplane Nostalgia

Type of Progym: Description

“The thought of my sisters and me, so young then and so untroubled, was sobering, and within a minute, Chris Rock or no Chris Rock, I was the one crying on the night flight to Paris. It wasn’t my intention to steal anyone’s thunder; a minute or two was all I needed. But, in the meantime, here we were: two grown men in roomy seats, each blubbering in his own élite puddle of light.”

I’ve always found planes to be extremely nostalgic and sentimental places. Flights are filled with people from all different walks of life, while you may be going on an exotic holiday the person sitting next to you might be coming back home and dreading doing so. However, there’s something about the silence and fluorescent light of an airplane that always makes me reminisce and over-analyze every single moment of my life. Our lives are usually so busy that we don’t get time to just sit alone with our thoughts for even a couple of minutes yet being on a long flight is the perfect opportunity to do so. We get completely disconnected from the world as we know it, with no contact with the world as we know it. It becomes one of the only moments where we can actually sit in peace with our thoughts, without any distraction except a stewardess asking if you want more snacks. As someone who can never sleep on a plane no matter what I do to try and relax, it always feels as if I’m the only one actually there, along with two or three other people suffering from the same restlessness as me. As the lights are shut down except for the fluorescent emergency and bathroom signs and maybe one or two reading lights, my mind always begins to wander and analyze my own life. Even as I try to distract myself by watching another subpar movie, which I won’t pay attention to at all, I always end up going back to thinking and doing some sort of deep introspection of my feelings, something I rarely do. With my noise-canceling headphones blaring some sort of calming playlist, which is most likely filled with emotional songs, to try and get myself to sleep for at least ten minutes, my mind always reaches a place I can only reach when I wake up abruptly at three in the morning while everyone in the house is sleeping. Somehow, just like Sedaris and the Polish man, I end up shedding a tear or two thinking of some nostalgic moment I’ve lived through, or realizing I need to completely change some part of my life in order to better myself, or reminiscing on the marvelous trip I just had or am about to have. Whatever it may be, flights are always filled with tremendous emotion and thoughts I wouldn’t have the time to think had I been having a normal day on land.

5 replies on “Airplane Nostalgia”

This is a great analysis of this article! I can definitely relate and you did a great job of summarizing the article. I also empathized with the limbo and meditation airplanes can bring. I wonder if you think reflection is emphasized on a flight that is for business instead of travel? I ask this because I find myself reflecting on the trip when it comes to travel, but on flights that are for more normal reasons i reflect more on myself. Does travel give a distraction to more introspective experiences?

I like how you took a spin on Sedaris’s examination of the flight as an environment, and I appreciate your perspective on it. I find it interesting how you attach some positive feeling to the experience of air travel, as I nearly always feel completely the opposite, which I even wrote about in response to this same reading. I think this just shows how different two people can interpret Sedaris’s writing. Also, I agree with your point of relating the feelings of others on the plane, though I often think of it as some kind of comradery in my suffering. There is definitely something interesting there as there is a culture in which you are forced to be around people you know nothing about for several hours in a cramped, uncomfortable environment. I think Sedaris does a great job of examining this, as do you.

This is a really good description. It really makes the reader feel like they are there with you. I think what makes this description stand out is how it appeals to the readers through nostalgia. For instance when you say “without any distraction except a stewardess asking if you want more snacks.” As a person thats been on a plane it takes me back to that moment and makes me nostalgic as well.

When you described the plane’s environment of being tightly packed and with all people from all walks of life, it got me thinking about “closing the gap” between cultures and such. Do you think that the closeness in proximity one is, on a flight sitting next to complete strangers, would be a way to close the gap. And I mean this in a figurative and physical sense. Because we would be so close together we would be able to connect on a more personal level. And even more due to the place in which this would be occurring. Since both parties are removed from their cultures and in a sterile-like environment I wonder if this would be conducive to a more unique and closer experience of connection. I know from flying a lot myself, I have had my fair share of emotional experiences and self-reflection so I wonder if a lot of others do this as well. And if so, would many people doing this at the same time add to the unique experience of engaging with total strangers and fostering new connections? Reading your progym really made me think about Sedsris’s piece in a different way and I enjoyed it a lot.

I like the direction that you took with analyzing the reading on the airports, by writing about your experience and nostalgia with airplanes. One thing that popped into my mind that reminded me of a different reading was when you wrote saying that you were trying to get sleep on the plane but was unable to. The reading, or actually the concept of vacation and tourism and forcing yourself to “relax” I feel can relate to the situation of airplanes. Not sure if I’m just pulling this out of thin air, or if you can agree with this, but the connection I’m thinking of is that we have this opportunity to sleep and relax, yet sometimes that is the last thing we want to do on a flight. And not that I sleep all the time on flights, but it feels significantly harder to sleep when you’re forcing yourself to on a plane to pass the time. Again not sure if it makes sense, but still an interesting point.
Anyway, the other thing that I liked about your post is connecting the different “views” and the perspectives of tourists. For instance, everyone is on their own journey, so assuming you’re all going to the same destination for the same reason as someone else, sounds ridiculous. Never really thought that, yes, your vacation is indeed someone else’s home, and so not everyone has the same emotions as someone else on the plane.

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