AND THEN HERE I AM

2 May

It’s been a weird week.  Yes, I was privy to a robbery in a Walgreens downtown and then a man at work who subjects me to both fake spider and sexual harassment had a heart attack.  Then there was a flood of biblical proportions in my kitchen thanks to a neighbor dumping bags of potting soil in a drain.  Now, I’m sitting in a café in the Charlotte, NC airport waiting for my connection to Mississippi.  The place where there were just tornadoes?  Yes, I’d love to go there.

I’m not a great flyer, even though I love to travel.  It has never hindered me in my excursions, but I’m a total white knuckler until the flight is smooth and the cart is coming around with what they claim is free beverages.  This was one of my better flights.  I was distracted by my seatmate who sat practically on my lap.  I wondered if I was entitled to a refund if I served as half a seat for 250 miles.  She wore not one but two airsickness wrist bands.  I was also equally distracted by the Amazonian woman wearing earrings the size of dinner plates and a zebra print shirt without enough material to cover her leopard print undergarments.  She said enough prayers for us all.

The remaining leg of the flight into Mississippi was roller coaster ride scary to say the least.  It might have been more tolerable had I been flying to where I really wanted to go (hello there West Coast..you know who you are).  Instead, a business trip meant subjecting myself to flight torture without the benefit of a good time.

This is my dilemma.  I love to travel.  I love to explore new places (no offense Mississippi, but there isn’t much to see here is there?) and I will continue to travel.  Hopefully, I will have a companion who understands my neurotic need to be at the airport exactly two hours early.  Two and a half hours if I’m lucky.  Yes, I’m the one who shuffles through the metal detectors efficiently balancing my shoes and laptop already in hand with a baggie of appropriate sized plastic containers. 

I like to settle in an uncomfortable chair with a gossip magazine that serves as only a beard to what I am really doing, people watching.  I could weekly sit in an airport and watch the people stroll by on their way to somewhere or returning from some place.  I saw a group of athletic girls with pony tails playing a raucous game of hackey sack.  I saw a woman with kohl black hair and bright red lips wearing an Elvira dress and red hair extensions.  There was the couple looking at pictures on their tiny Mac laptop while smiling and frequently kissing.  There was the couple arguing vehemently while the wife double fisted a plastic glass of wine in one hand and a beer in the other.

I like to see men in their service uniforms weighted down by heavy backpacks and newly shorn shaved heads.  There are men and women in tailored suits flying to somewhere to sell something.  There was the young man returning home for the first time in years to see his ailing mother. 

I like their stories, but sometimes I like to make up my own.  The young woman with the infirmed older woman in the wheelchair becomes a nurse, traveling with the elderly patient.  The older woman could see her mortality on the horizon and was going to see the estranged children she had abandoned when she left their father years ago.  The nurse was having a secret affair with the lawyer who lived next door and was using this trip as a way to get away from the daily sight of his wife and children.

Once, I met Geraldo Rivera in the airport.  I was late at night in New York and I was browsing the magazine section of one of the few kiosks still open.  He walked in with another man and my first thought was what a surreal thing to happen at midnight in Islip.  He was also shorter than I thought he would be, and older looking.  He wore light colored jeans and I wanted to remark he was far too old for that.  Instead, I smiled at him and he smiled back and made a comment about how late it was. 

Once, I was walking across the parking lot at the Kennedy airport which is a nightmare in itself.  It was late at night and terrifying and there in the dark was a group of young Muslim men kneeling on rugs and saying prayers.  I remember pausing long enough to think it was yet another moment I should file away to write about someday.  Today is the day.

I’ll travel the rest of my life.  At least I hope I will.  I’ll still freak out over every bump the plane finds in the sky.  I’ll drink diet coke I do not want because dammit they took my peanuts away.  I’ll sit in airports and watch the people and make up stories for their lives.  The fear is never enough to take away the sheer joy of going somewhere and watching people do the same.

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2 Responses to “AND THEN HERE I AM”

  1. Scotia Nightpoetry May 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Brilliant observational piece and just the right side of funny.

    Brian

    • Cold Dead Heart May 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

      Thank you! I always want to be on the side of funny 🙂

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