I’m sitting in the airport again. This time because my flight from Omaha was late getting to Denver. I don’t really mind. I can chat on the phone, I can browse the book stores, I can eat, I can even work on my book if I want or need to. Being stranded is a bit like being in suspended animation; my life stops. I become a voyeur, I get to walk much farther than I would normally at home. Let’s see, what else? I love watching people but I already mentioned that. I love browsing at the sparkly cart where I could buy a sparkly hair comb for $59 dollars, but I won’t.
Just now, as I was walking down a long hall, avoiding the moving floor because I have a lot of time, I thought I saw Edward, a friend and artist I know from Bozeman days. I was just about to stop him but realized quickly that if it was Edward we would simply stand in the middle of the corridor, after a hug, then make small talk. An airport is filled with small talk and I didn’t want to contribute to it, so I kept on walking. What is small talk anyway? Talking of small matters I guess; it’s not as though you would see an aquaintance in the airport and launch into your entire emotional history right there on the spot! But, on the other hand, I remember taking a train once from Connecticut into the city and I sat next to a good looking man. We spent the hour telling each other all our deepest and darkest secrets. He got off at 125th St., I got off at Grand Central. I never saw him again. That was fun!
Just now I saw a woman two rows away from me who I thought was my friend Suzy. I stared at her, she turned her face toward me and, it wasn’t her. I guess it’s not a stretch to realize that with so many humans around a few, at least, are going to look like someone you know.
I dislike talking to the person next to me on a plane. It’s bizarre that we sit closer than we usually sit next to our loved ones, touching shoulders because we can’t help it, watching each other eat and drink! I always make a point of putting the arm down between us and then grope around in my bag to find my book. Sitting so close to someone I don’t know is difficult. I’m used to being quiet, used to lots of space.
When I wasn’t well there were many times I pretended to be in a bubble when I left my house. I remember finding it extremely difficult to stay in a room filled with people, such as at a party or family gathering. I discovered, in my twenties, that a rest room was the place I could go to gather my wits when overwhelmed by people. I suspect others have adopted rest rooms as places to catch one’s breath. In airports the restrooms are the only places where no one can see you. I’ll sit and put my head in my hands and breathe, breathe, breathe.
There’s something disconcerting about how quietly we in the west stand in line. I’ve lived in Africa and India and those lines are anything but quiet! We stand, obedient to the officials officiating. And it seems that the bigger cities attract the quietest lines. No? I like walking into the depths of the Denver airport where one very long room houses the Gates for a myriad of small cities, towns really, from the Dakotas to Montana and Wyoming, Idaho. It’s noisy and friendly down there. Then, as comparison, walk up to the Gates where people are waiting to board planes for New York, San Francisco, Houston. People are waiting, quietly, working on their laptops, not visiting.
It’s almost time to be at my Gate, to stand in line and give the airline person my boarding pass. I’ll get back, find my truck in the parking lot, drive home and be so very glad to be in the woods again, with my creek. It’s the people I meet when I travel who give me the strength to keep on doing this. My favorite part of being an ambassador for BringChange2Mind is meeting the people who come up to me after I speak. It’s for them and the others I meet who make traveling bearable. Because, just think of it: we gather in huge buildings, single file into long metal tubes and fly hundreds of miles in a short time, then file out again, without getting to know each other. How very strange! Snitz, my Emotional Support Service Dog will be with me on my next trip. And that’s a whole other story!