To whom it may concern

Such precious cargo

Waiting in the departure lounge, I shift my weight from my right foot to my left.

My duffle bag is looped loosely over my shoulder.

I glance up from my book.

Everyone else sits.

Everyone else stares.

Outside, the sky is seaweed green, like the sunset is stuck, struggling at the bottom of an empty wine bottle.

Like we are viewing it from the bottom of the ocean.

I look back down to my page number.

“Remember 78,” I tell myself, and close the book.

I don’t like to dog-ear pages. But sometimes I forget.

I notice a few older men eye me wearily.

Perhaps they are sizing me up as an over-zealous pre-boarder.

Perhaps they are excited by the length of my dress.

By the height of my socks.

A part of me feels like I want to stake a claim on one of the few remaining seats, but overwhelmingly I want to remain standing.

I want to stay upright forever.

I have already been travelling for five hours, and another five and a half hours await.

Once I get on to a plane, I devolve into a tangled mess of too-long legs, poor posture, and deep sleep.

Resting on planes has never been a problem for me.

I do it quickly, and with ease.

It’s just my mouth.

It hangs wide open, and I am always afraid that someone might drop things there.

Like pennies.

Or cherry pits.

“You should eat a sandwich,” I tell myself. “And fill up your water bottle.”

Instead I look at magazines and daydream about making out with Ewen McGregor.

Instead I take a photo of myself pretending to dance with a giant, fake stuffed bear.

I think about opening up a chain of airport gyms.

I think about how showers would be integral to the success of this business venture.

And then I walk the length of the terminal.

Twice.

Departure levels are such strange beasts.

So many people in transit, lives in flux. No one speaking, everyone just focused.

On making it to their destination.

On just making it.

I think about the people who work at the restaurants and cafes; the gift shops, the newsagents and the duty frees. Dealing with thousands of bleary-eyed, bumbling travellers, acting as gatekeepers of People magazine and double mint gum, suppliers of double doubles, and venti extra hots, always ready to ask “like another?” or “fries or salad?” and dreading the possibility of “I think you’ve had enough?”

I always want to talk.

Talk to everyone I see.

Find out their stories.

Ask them.

From where are they coming.

Where are they going.

Who do they love. Who do they loathe.

Who do they want.

What do they want.

What do they want so much more than just to make it.

But instead I just open my book to page 76, and re-read those last two pages.

And shift my feet.

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11 thoughts on “Such precious cargo

  1. no-1 hazz ever said this 2 yew eye’m shur, but, well, 1st thought wazz “you are so cute!” (now this is coming from your slightly evil older uncle). and your precise? stripped-down to-the-point hittin’ the mark writing brings me (and everyone else) “there”.
    although, this has very little to do with your essay, but another airport terminal scene comes to mind… i’m sure you saw “warm bodies” ?

    1. I really appreciate having you for an evil uncle in my life! And thank you – it’s always lovely to get a compliment. :)

      And thank you too for the very kind words. So glad you enjoyed!

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