Friday, January 25, 2013

The Airport


“The moving walkway is now ending, please look down.”  “The moving walkway is now ending, please look down.”  I walk amidst the noise of motion and conveyor belts.  I see feet all for as far as my eyes can see in this moving crowd of people.  Feet of all ages, reckless, restless feet, walking, running, strutting, clicking fast towards their destination.  Where is that destination?  It seems we are all constantly running, but never reaching a place to call home.  Life today needs a destination.  Cell phones ringing, people speaking, suitcases rolling and reeling.  The conveyor belt lurching—everyone pushing, shoving, screeching to be at the forefront. Airports speak volumes about us, don’t they?

            People are struggling and striving to lift those few precious belongings thought to be most important—those material objects that we cannot leave without: important enough to drag and lug across the world.  I find my own anonymous black bag that evidently needs some sort of marking like a ribbon…next time, I think.  I continue on, suitcase trailing reluctantly behind, through the roped off labyrinth that is the modern day airport, our own long awaited futuristic fantasy.  This spiraling path has energy enough within itself to move people like a gigantic herd of cattle across the Western plains—such a modern day invention: the spring-back crowd divider.  What else does human ingenuity have in store for us?

            I am wearing a skirt today, something that my grandmother always did.  Always.  She had one pair of pants hanging in her closet for years, left untouched, virginal.  Wearing a skirt is not really conducive to the heave-ho of lifting incredibly weighty luggage and hopping off and on conveyor belts that tell you what to do or where to go so that you avoid killing yourself upon propulsion across the terminal.

            Finally, I’m outside.  I breathe in deeply in order to greedily engulf more fresh air than my body has seen for the past 30 hours.  My windpipe freezes in surprise as the cold inhabits my body.  It’s been a good long while since I have felt this kind of cold.  It is trying to welcome me home, but I am having a hard time trying to feel the “open arms” part of the deal, unless those arms are made of ice.  No messages on my cell phone.  What the hell.

            I see him.  He’s one lucky bastard.  Correct me if I am wrong, but is a ride home from the airport not one of the perks of a romantic relationship?  Isn’t this one of the few roles a boyfriend is required to take on?  Gabe rolls up quickly, pops open the trunk, and I once again lug my large case into the back most inelegantly in my skirt and jump into the passenger seat next to him.  The only reward that awaits me is a peck on the cheek.  Oh forgive me! I should be appreciative that he has gallantly come to transport me home.  On the contrary.  A man should be honored to feel the grace of a lady’s presence inside his humble carriage.  “Hey.  I was wondering why you hadn’t called.  My plane was on time for once.”  We roll off into the sunset.

            Sometimes, I really wish I could go back in time, both in my own life and history.  A time when I was still innocent, like a freshly tanned farm girl, and the world was just a little less insane, apathetic, and engulfing.


She bends down to pick up her purse as she hears her boarding call.  She looks up to meet my eyes; a look of disgust infects her face as she quickly understands the motive behind my gaze, then looks away without a thought.  There is a certain art in the graceful movement of a woman.  The way she holds herself, aware of the eyes around her, then shies away as if those eyes were seeing something they should not.  Only an ankle is revealed from below the cuff of her pant leg.  An ankle in this day and age is seemingly nothing significant at all.  Yet her ankle is so vulnerable, so telling.  It redeems the coldness and hostility of her stare.  I could, almost, see inside her soul through that undulation of skin and bone beneath her calf.

I know she sees me.  I can tell by the way she purses her lips, with a slight bitter gleam in her eye, aware of and enjoying my admiration.  I’ve often wondered whether women require this silent praise in order to survive and get through life in our world of generic nameless faces.  Maybe just people in general need the validation that they exist and are noticed:  just the knowledge that someone else appreciates the truth of their own uniqueness in the world.  How does it feel to be her?  This woman, presumably in her 30’s, has the fate of the world before her.  She wears no rings, therefore she is not tied down.  Well, at least not too much.  One can only hope that she does not take her freedom for granted.  She is wearing pants, though.  A telling sign.  I prefer women in skirts. 

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