When British Airways Flight 48 from Seattle to London passes over our house, during its dinnertime northbound departure for the Arctic and beyond, I think to myself, "The plane to London. You would like to be on it?" I would someday, but in the meantime I think about all the people who pass within a mile of our house, in coach and business class and first class, on their way to Europe. This occurs to me because I just saw that this is the 66th anniverary of the release of Casablanca. The legendary 1942 flick has this exchange between Rick and Capt. Renault, who are looking up at a plane passing overhead:
"The plane to Lisbon. You would like to be on it?"
"Why?" says Rick. "What's in Lisbon?"
"The clipper to America," says Renault.
Etc., etc. Next week I'll be taking the train to Battle Creek. Albion, Mich., more precisely. I grew up within a mile of the main Detroit-to-Chicago rail line. And sometimes I think about all the people who passed by as passengers, during the golden age of passenger rail travel. Babe Ruth and all the other baseball stars? Gangsters? Politicians and inventors? We used to walk along the tracks and pick up grimy junk and take it home. Big fragments of springs. Spikes. Rusty artifacts of railroading.
Proximity is a funny thing, an inspiring thing.