I didn't think about documenting the route this time, mostly because I felt shame to suddenly, by chance, be carrying a route for financial gain.
But then on the airplane, an especially beautiful explosion of clouds, like ravaging cliffs and waves and suitcases and UFOs waiting in line, one after another, bulbous one on top of another. I think about taking a photograph. I think about swathes of people like clouds rushing under the tall, curving glass ceilings of sleek and sterilised airports. About how another courier said he was not sure if he would be able to come up with something this time, travelling by plane as opposed to the 24-hour train ride of his previous route; airports are too sterile. About how I then responded that I like the contrast of such high emotions in those sterile environments. About how I felt like she was being so scorpion in her calculated use of the word love when talking about her willingness to take another route. That courier route would stop when she stopped loving me, supposedly. I was not sure if it should be shameful to engage someone to work for love, or, as she said, to run again on something absurdly quantifiable, meaning facing up to our servitude, and just simply following another capitalist logic. Another courier says that scorpion courier is very good at 談戀愛——literally, to talk about romantic attachments (and the act 演講, of talking publicly, is to perform). But what can we really talk about love? I feel like she's using me when she talks about love, but perhaps just as she feels used that I ask her about routes. That is the labour of love, perhaps...the kind that we resent our parents for, the kind that keeps them together after all those explosions and all this time. All this time.
The courier that is impressed with another's ability to talk about love confesses that she gets stopped by emotion. All these words that don't know how to come out. Is that a labour, too? To be stuck with our hiccups and having to work around not knowing how to liberate difficult words? Like emotion in a sterile environment, rushing all about somewhere between a stomach and the gate of that little thing that hangs in the back of your mouth, even though the flight paths are on perpetual, repeated delay. It is a lot of work.
I think about the photograph of the wing of the aircraft pointing toward a sea of clouds, the one photographed by a friend in 2011 on his first journey by plane at the age of 48. He was on his way from Beijing to Guangzhou for work, actually. But while up in the air he wrote a poem.
The air conditioning on this plane is as usual on high for sterility, but we're flying south, and the sun is on my side. I keep leaning close to the window to keep warm, but I don't take a photograph of clouds.