I have three sets of airplane cufflinks. Why? Because I absolutely love airplanes. The fact that human beings have built machines that can fly three times the speed of sound based on unequal air pressure just blows my mind. I loved reading about Daedalus and Icarus. I used to run around the lawn like an idiot with my arms spread out pretending to be an F4U Corsair. I had a broken arm, so I couldn't be a P-51 Mustang, or a Super Marine Spitfire. When I first saw Top Gun, I almost changed my mind about being an Army Ranger Captain and considered being a Naval Aviator instead. Ultimately playing oiled up shirtless volleyball didn't appeal to me, so no badass F-14 Tomcat jockeying for me.
I have flown hundreds of times in my life, yet every single time I fly, I look out the window like it's the very first time I've ever sat on a plane. It literally never gets old for me. I always try to book the window seat. I look at the rivets. I check out other planes taxiing and taking off. I'm the perfect person to sit next to on an airplane. Why? Because I will never talk to you. I will just have my head turned, staring out the window until clouds obscure my vision. When the iPad first came out, they had a game on it where you landed planes on runways. I literally got an iPad just to play that game. Everything about flying is great. It's the only time I drink cans of Mrs. T's Bloody Mary mix. It's the only time I drink water from a little plastic cup with a foil lid. Shit, I even get excited about airline meals. I read the inflight magazines and I make sure my socks soak up every single drop of urine that misses the toilet in the bathroom. I mean, it is all fantastic to me. Guess who has his tray table up and his seat back in the full upright position? This guy! If you know what song that came from, I'm going to be seriously impressed.
Every single time I fly, for a brief moment, I think of the first time I ever set foot on an airplane. My first flight was on a Northwest Orient Boeing 747 from Seoul, S. Korea to JFK. It probably stopped in LA or Seattle. I just remember stopping somewhere. Probably to refuel. I think without the advent of air travel, I would never have been adopted. The logistics of shipping kids via boat would just be too difficult, but a plane allows you to be halfway around the world in less than 24 hours. No one would be willing to chaperone a kid on an ocean voyage and the cost would be astronomical. I think an airplane literally may have saved my life. I was in an orphanage in Seoul one minute and was landing in one of the greatest cities in the world, New York City, the next. I think it was very fitting that I was wearing Superman shoes on my flight over, as for a brief moment, I (along with like 300 other people) was flying through the skies -- with snacks, Clark Kent. Beat that!
Airplanes democratized travel. The 747 made it cost effective for millions of people besides orphans to fly instead of just the super elite. Although it also introduced the acceptability for toddlers to kick the back of your seat, that's a small price to pay for the ability to be in Albuquerque in the morning and Auckland, New Zealand the next day. I've had the luxury of living on three continents. Airplanes allowed that to happen. For three months, I flew back and forth from Barcelona to Chicago every two weeks. For almost a year, my wife and I flew back and forth from Chicago to Houston every two weeks. Planes have made the world accessible for so many people, and what were once vast, once in a lifetime trips become commutes.
Every time I wear airplane cufflinks, I make a little promise to myself. I've never spoken this to anyone before, but I promise what I am about to say is true. I will look at the airplane cufflink in my hand, and I will force myself to remember where I came from and how far I've come. I make a small vow to make that day one step closer to the next great journey and to get on an airplane as soon as possible. I try and tie as many reminders to it as I can. For many years (until I got sick and tired of replacing the damn globe that kept falling off), I had a Tiffany key ring that had a plane on one end and a globe on the other. To me, it was a symbol that the world really was my oyster and a plane was are it would take to get me there.
I have many goals of places I want to live in my lifetime. I'd love to spend four years in Buenos Aires, I NEED to spend four years in Johannesburg, and my end goal is to retire in New Zealand. When this happens, I'll have lived on six out of the seven continents. To achieve this before airplanes would have been almost impossible. It would just be a silly, impractical pipe dream. I'm halfway there. I want to complete this goal so bad I can taste it. I gave up my own marketing firm to work for a multinational just to make this objective easier to achieve. Well, that and I was seriously starting to despise 99.9% of my employees who were millennials. But mostly the living abroad thing. Ok, it was 50/50. FINE! Millennials drove me to quit! I feel like Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show, "Great show! Bravo! It was great! Well, it was okay. I think I've seen better. On second thought, it was very ordinary. Almost terrible. It was awful. Get off the stage! Boo!!! Boo!!!"
See, I managed to throw in a tangent even in a serious post. I'm that fucking good. And, I swore! Two for two! So, short story long, airplanes have made a profound impact on my life. I can't wait to see where else they take me in the future. You are now free to roam around the globe.