Thursday, May 6, 2010

Post by Emily St. John Mandel

Someday I’d like to see the Twin Cities in daylight. I’ve only visited Minnesota once, for ten or eleven hours of winter darkness, and I’ll confess that I was a reluctant guest; on the way back home from a booksellers convention in San Jose a few months back, I landed in Minneapolis-St. Paul for what was supposed to be a half-hour stopover. But air travel in winter is always a little dicey, and the northeast was in the grips of a winter storm—by the time I landed in Minnesota, my connecting flight home to New York had been cancelled. Delta’s solution? A 6 a.m. flight to Detroit the following morning. (This, in a nutshell, is why I don’t like Delta very much, but that’s a topic for an entirely different blog post.)

I took the airport train to a friend’s house and spent a far-too-brief night on an air mattress. Long before sunrise I was outside again, walking back through the snow to the train station. It took a long time to get from the Minneapolis transit station to my front door in Brooklyn, and later on those two days that I spent trying to get from San Jose to New York seemed like a long, strange, sleep-deprived dream: moving through the pale light of terminals in San Jose and Minneapolis and Detroit, waiting at train stations in the snow, looking down at grey-and-white winter cities through airplane windows, drifting in and out of sleep at 30,000 feet.

In retrospect, though, none of it was especially unpleasant, because I had a good book with me. I was reading a novel that I’d picked up at the conference in San Jose (Elise Blackwell’s An Unfinished Score; we’re published by the same press, and we’d swapped galleys at the signing table), and throughout that long interval of travel I was lost in the story. I don’t mean to imply that having a good book to read cancelled out everything—I was tired and there’d been way too many airplanes and I wanted very much to be home—but the book was the common thread throughout the whole complicated mess of cancelled flights and crowded airports and ever-changing seat assignments. It was nice to have a world I could slip into when I needed an escape from whichever airport or plane I was in.

I hope someday to visit Minneapolis-St. Paul on purpose, this time perhaps not in the middle of winter. In the meantime, I’m careful never to travel without extra reading material.

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