PEOPLE WHO’S DOODLES LOOK BETTER THAN STUFF I SPEND HOURS ON
Airports weren’t new to me. I get on and off planes pretty frequently with work or family or just whatever it was at that moment, but I’ve never really noticed things about airports. Well at least not like today. My plane landed at 6:43 pm. It was a little late but I didn’t mind. My beautiful wife and daughter would be waiting there for me when I landed so a few minutes wasn’t that bad. Or so I thought. The current time was 7:57 pm and I had NOT seen my wife and daughter yet. I hadn’t seen them in 2 weeks actually. I missed them.
My phone rang. It was that song that we always sung along to in college. I didn’t really know the words and I don’t really think I did back then either but that never stopped us. I picked up the phone. My daughter bounced at the other end of the line about everything she had on her mind. Six years old and was already so smart. I could tell her blonde curls were bouncing around her head like they always do when she was excited. She handed the phone to my wife. My wife was a beautiful woman. So calm regardless of the situation. She said that she would see me in one hour. It’s not her fault they were late. Traffic around Christmas is always bad.
9:15. They weren’t there yet. I was beginning to worry but I tried to distract myself with things. I walked around the terminal a bit and got a cup of some strange kind of coffee. A war veteran I met told me to try it. It was good but it kind of stung. He told me that it was his fathers favorite kind of coffee and that after his father died that’s all he would drink. His father died back in World War II and that’s why he joined the military himself. We talked for a while and sipped our coffee and forgot about the stress of travel around us. I always admired war veterans.
9:48. I heard that song from back in college. My wife’s voice disrupted the noise of the crowds around me. 10:30 she said. 10:30. I wasn’t mad, just worried about them. It would blow over soon enough though. I would see their faces at 10:30 and it would all blow over.
10:19. I made my way around crowds of different faces trying to get to the spot where they would pick me up. Do you ever do that thing where you remember that all those bodies in a crowd belong to an individual life and they all have a wife and daughter they are waiting for too? I wish I remembered that more often. Maybe I would be a more patient person.
10:41. Any minute now, right? I was outside now, breathing in and out the night sky and bus exhaust just waiting for my two favorite people. It was around this time when I started to “notice things” about airports. I suppose one of my favorite things I found is that the people around you are so unbiased and honest. In airports, everyone is trying to get somewhere and they all come from different beginnings. These people could live on the other side of the world or they could live right down the street from your old neighborhood and you would never know unless you decide to talk to them. I always want to say something to someone. Just to see what they are like and where they are going. It’s not like you’re gonna see them ever again.
11:02. That song played again. My wife was trying her best. I appreciate it, I really do. One more hour. She told me one more hour and I was still okay with that. She’s always so patient with me. She says that our daughter is asleep in the backseat. Poor girl. Exhausted from all of this travel. It’s okay though. I’ll see her blonde curls soon. One more hour.
12:22. I was beginning to worry as the people around me came and gone. I was sitting on a bench outside with a young Japanese girl who didn’t look like she spoke much English. She turned at me and smiled. I smiled back. Her innocence and playfulness was admirable. I wonder where she was going. I wanted to ask but I only knew a little Japanese for business and I didn’t want to bother her anyway.
12:47. The Japanese girl left. I was now sitting on the bench with a couple that smelled like winter and cheap champagne. I overheard them talk about their house and families in-between kisses. It sounds like they just moved in together and are having a hard time with income and family support. When they kissed again I slipped a 20 into one of their bags. I hope it helps them.
1:36. I kept checking my phone for a call. Just one to know that they were okay. Nothing. It was just me on the bench at the time. I was really beginning to worry then.
2:00 am. Still nothing. A guy about the same age as me came out of the building and sat on the bench. We sat there in dead silence until he pulled out a cigarette and then offered me one. I wasn’t a smoker, but I took one to be friendly. Maybe it would calm me down. His name was Douglas. I’m actually pretty good friends with him now. We got to talking about our trips and family and all kinds of things. He was a really nice guy and turns out he was in the same situation as me. His brothers were supposed to come get him from up-state but they got drunk and couldn’t come so he had to get a ride from his mom and she got caught in the same traffic.
3:49. I was still talking to Doug but we got more emotional by the minute. I was half crying by then. I kept checking my phone but nothing still. It had been almost 5 hours since I heard from my wife and daughter.
4:14. I heard a phone ring. It wasn’t mine. It wasn’t Doug’s either. A man behind us picked up and after a few seconds he started bawling. He hung up and slumped into the bench next to Doug. He said that there was a huge pile-up on one of the main highways in town and that his son had been killed in it. My heart sank. I felt so bad for that man. And I felt bad for myself too. I refused to think that’s what had happened. No way. Her phone died. That was all.
4:56. I looked at Doug. He was solemn. This was the time I gave up. The 2 of us called for a taxi. I booked a hotel for the night. I tried to call some other family members but they wouldn’t pick up. I began to doubt I would hear that song from college any time soon. I didn’t think I would see those blonde curls bounce around for a while. I wasn’t sure that I would hear my wife’s calm voice in the near future. I took another long drag on a cigarette. This was my 4th one. I couldn’t take this anymore. I guess I don’t really like airports anymore.