The Internet is Incredible

by Michael Nystrom

Get on a brand spanking new 787, one with cathedral ceilings and plenty of room, unlike any plane you’ve ever been on. It is so roomy! Every seat has its own personal LCD touch screen, overflowing with media options – movies, television, music, news.

Watch a movie and listen in full stereo.

This isn’t like the old days of the wide body 747s, when there was just a single movie screen at the front, and if you had a bad seat, you were out of luck. And instead of wired headphones, you actually listened to to the sound through hollow tubes connected to your ears. Pinch the tube and the sound got cut off.

Sit on the plane for 12 hours. Observe that the windows on this fancy new plane don’t have shades, but instead a button that tints the windows themselves and makes them darker. Watch a Japanese movie that has you in tears from the get-go for reasons you don’t fully understand and can only guess at.

Stare out the tinted window at the surreal view of the wing of the airplane every once in a while. Make sure the wing is still there. Observe its eery, utter stillness. From eight miles high, look down at the landscape below.

Have a couple glasses of complimentary wine. Be grateful to JAL for the free booze. Marvel at the fact they also have free toothbrushes in the spacious bathroom.

Eat. Look at some magazines. Sleep. Wake up. Watch another movie. Eat. Finally finish that article from the New York Times Magazine you’ve been meaning to.

Touchdown. Plod your way, tired & disoriented, with the rest of the passengers to the exit and immediately get hit with the wall of Tokyo humidity, that envelopes you like a glove made of sponge when you “deplane.”

Revel in the memories. Memories from what seems like another lifetime, 20 years ago when, for a time, this was the place you called home.

Make your way to the hotel. Sweaty. Sleepy. Check in. It is 4:00pm local time, 3am Boston time, 18 hours since you left the house.

Samantha says, “I’m going to take a shower.” Say, “Ok. I’ll take one after you,” then lay down on the bed, on top of the covers for a tiny little rest and zonk out completely.

Fall into a deep, dreamless sleep for the next 10 hours.

Wake up. Feel your own consciousness come back online, first slowly, and then suddenly. Fully functioning. Go to the window and marvel at the Tokyo skyline at night.

Open the laptop. Check up on what happened with Snowden over the last 18 hours, while you were up in the air.

3am Tokyo time. Wander downstairs to the lobby with Samantha.

Whoa! All these people working! There must be 5 people at the front desk, dressed in uniforms with crisp white shirts. There’s a bartender at the bar. And not a soul in the lobby aside from us.


Samatha wants coffee. “Coffee at this hour?” I say. “You won’t be able to go back to sleep.”

“I won’t be able to go back to sleep anyway,” she says.

True enough.

Stroll through the ghostly, humid Tokyo night looking for a conbini.

Find a store that’s open – a Family Mart. Samantha gets a prepackaged, refrigerated coffee. It is not bad, but just a tad too sweet. Tastes like Japan. Memories flood the brain again.

Look over the beverage section, and ponder getting a beer. This is certainly something you’d never see in Boston, you think: Beer at a convenience store? You can’t even get a beer at the grocery store in Massachusetts.

Ultimately decide against the beer. Get an onigiri – one for you, and one for Samantha. Finish them before you make it back to the hotel room on the 33rd floor.

Dial into the Daily Paul. 10,000 miles from home, on the other end of the earth, and after all of that, it is right there. Right where it always is. Right where it belongs.

The internet is incredible.