This week, The New York Times published a short documentary about a group of aviation industry employees who live in an LAX parking lot. Basically, there are a bunch of pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, and others who live in RVs in a long term lot. The video offers a glimpse into their lives, which they all say they like but which also appears very lonely; one guy talks about how everyone in the industry is divorced, for example, and another guy talks about how he doesn’t have long until he can retire when he actually has 10 to 15 years left.
It seems throughout that the subjects are trying to convince themselves that their lifestyle is worth it.
Which kind of strikes me as an aspect of travel generally. I spent this summer traveling almost constantly as a reporter, and Laura travels regularly for her work as a flight attendant. Both of these jobs have taken us to far off and exciting places. They’re cool jobs.
But our experiences on the road also involve a lot of time alone. There are nights in boring corporate hotels, many dinners for one in restaurants, and lots of solo wandering. I wouldn’t trade my travel experiences for anything, and I don’t intend to stop.
But the fact remains that being a stranger in a strange land means a certain amount of isolation. That can last for days, weeks, or in the case of the people in the Times video, years.
All of which is to say, I suppose, that the experience of traveling is made rewarding by its inverse: the experience of coming home.
(I couldn’t get the video to embed here, so you’ll have to click through to the Times page to watch it.)
— Jim Dalrymple