It is true that life is both a matter of contrasts and your capability to sense the same. If you are not aware of what’s going on around you or if you are hyperaware of what’s happening you may never have one; a perfect moment. I have to add that I have been accused of being a “moment junky”, someone that takes the time to find these moments but in reality I may simply put myself in situations where I have opportunity for experiencing great contrast. I will leave that debate to another time. As you can guess I had perfect moment seconds ago and had to write it down before it faded from memory like a dream that evaporates minutes after you awake.
I was in Baku, Azerbaijan for the last week, participating in the United Nations Internet Governance Forum, and my flight back to the United States departed about ten hours ago. The flight left at 4:50 am and it was strongly recommended that I arrive at the airport at 2:50 am at the latest. For me that meant 2:30am. The evening before I had work calls the last of which ended around midnight. So I did not sleep and stayed up till my flight. The Baku airport is a beautiful building it is sort of like a wedding cake of lights and each level of the building is half a circle with a flat top for the next layer to sit on. The inside however is a bit more Like Nairobi or Tanzania – kind of utilitarian and a bit unorganized.
Checking in for my flight was easy besides; not getting my connecting flight tickets and not having my baggage checked to my final destination. None of this mattered as I had a plan and the plan only required me to sleep on the first flight and the following flight for five to eight total hours. This would allow me to be adjusted to US East coast time on returning! However, it is simply proverb, what happens to the best plans that is. Seated in front of me was a nice family with three children, toddlers, and this made sleep impossible. But I did get to play “make a silly face so the baby smiles” a bit and get my finger grabbed by the two year old. Overall a nice flight but no sleep, it was a five hour flight and my plan seemed a failure at best. I was tired.
My next stop was Frankfurt and as you can imagine, landing in Frankfurt with no connecting flight ticket was not fun. Eventually I got where I needed to go, my gate, by showing my itinerary to enough people. Once at my gate I received my boarding pass but I would still have to recheck my bag in Newark, there was nothing they could do about that. For those of you that don’t travel internationally, dealing with luggage is a hassle if you are connecting to another flight once getting to the United States. First, you have to claim your bag and walk it through customs. Then you need to give it back to an airline employee, in my case a United Airlines employee. Finally, you have to go through a TSA Security Checkpoint to get back to the terminal.
There was a silver lining to the morning, Germany and Pretzels – as pretzels go they are second only to Philly soft pretzels. Since I was so delayed chasing down boarding passes I had no time to go to the Lufthansa Business Lounge so I stayed by the gate and decided to get some pretzels from one of the terminal vendors. Pretzels are one of those foods for me that I will eat and eat till I make myself sick, they are so good that to me that I have no control! However, you could never mistake eating a favorite food as a perfect moment, no; a moment is much more than enjoyment. Moments are usually missed and when not missed people may try their whole life to recreate the feeling. It should also be noted that it is not the moment itself that they try to recreate but the sensation that came from recognizing the event.
I boarded the flight, found and got in my seat, wrapped a blanket around myself, put on my seatbelt, and then fell asleep for the next 45 minutes. I woke up briefly as the plane went wheels up – the moment when the takeoff roll is executed – positive lift is established, and the wheels are takeoff gear is retracted back into the pane. It took about two seconds after this for me to put my seat back and fall soundly asleep! I awoke again at 12:30 PM German time, rolled my head to the right and opened my eyes. That is when I saw it, the cart. On this cart were coffee carafes and next to them were cups. I was groggy still and I could barely make out her voice, it was the stewardess and she said; “would you like anything?” I responded, “Coffee?” and she said “Sugar?” And I said “Please.” She made my coffee and with a big smile handed it to me and asked “anything else?” I replied “No” and she walked away.
I held the cup in my hand and felt the warmth of the cup for a moment. It was fantastic. I then slowly raised the cup to my lips, the cup was hot to the touch but that is perfect for coffee. As I had my first sip it was as if the coffee itself defied physics and stared replicating in my mouth covering every inch of it with an intense bold flavor. The coffee itself had texture and I could sense it going down my throat as it surely fulfilled every need I had at that instant. Drinking that coffee was a joy and with every sip less intense but no less enjoyable. That first drink of coffee brought me to a perfect moment that would surely never be recreated; there would be no way to do so the events leading up to it were both random and cumulative.
Now, all you people that like alternative endings and may desire to tear this apart I submit you are right, this moment could be destroyed. If you peel away one of the threads it is not the same cup of coffee – moment. For example, if you turn the stewardess into a guy that yelled “take your coffee” or have the stewardess instead spill the coffee on me I would agree that it would be a different experience altogether. But I guess that is what makes me a moment junkie, the fact that I always want that feeling, the feeling of a perfect moment. Think of it, to recreate that moment of separating yourself from reality to look at things as if you are external to some event – priceless. When I finished that coffee I ordered another cup. The Stewardess brought it to me and I took a sip, there was something wrong, it tasted funny, my first thought was did she get me Decaffeinated?
I did something I rarely do, I called her over and asked her to confirm that it was not decaffeinated and she said “no” and that “United Airlines had stopped brewing decaffeinated coffee about six months earlier.” The coffee definitely tasted different, as if there was some foreign taste or something about it was just wrong, what a puzzle. I tasted the coffee again and I told her that it did not taste right and she said, with a smile on her face, “let’s start over, let me get another cup for you”. She did and it was fine, I drank the entire cup, but it was not equal to the coffee I had in that moment, the moment following the second after waking up! There would be no way to ever recreate the events that led up to the moment when I had the most intense cup of coffee of my life. I sat back and thought of other moments and smiled.
Time to go back to sleep, Cheers,