Archive for November, 2009

Aloft

November 27, 2009

On Saturday I flew from California to New Jersey for Thanksgiving.

As the plane started its descent, the woman right behind me, in 30A, got very excited. “Is that Manhattan? I think it’s Manhattan!”

I looked out my window, hoping to see the Empire State Building and the Chrysler and the other tall one with the pyramid top. But either she had very sharp eyesight, or she was mistaking Newark’s boxy skyline – looking as romantic as it possibly could in the hazy distance – for Manhattan.

My best guess was that we were flying over Elizabeth. If New Jersey is the armpit of America, Elizabeth is one of the individual hairs. It’s one of those places where even the billboards are decaying: a city of chain link, broken glass, aluminum row houses whose backyards look like empty lots.

Taking in these sights, 30A sighed in rapture. “I just love the East Coast. It’s so different. Everything about it!”

This is the wonderful thing about me moving to Britain: I get to be like 30A, oohing over things like mailboxes, municipal buses, and jars of marmalade. Everything is romantic just because it’s new. And because London really is more beautiful than Elizabeth.