Airport Questions

 12:00 midnight and my eyelids sagged shut despite my increasing effort to keep them propped open. The guard at the airport hotel had finally kicked me out of the lounge after a three hour dinner and sitting on the couch for another two hours. I sat stone ridged on an airport bench with one leg through the strap of my bag and my arm through my backpack straps. The fog in my head grew till the white lights and the shinny marble floor swam with memories and dreams all mixed into one.  

This is what I wanted though, to prove to myself that I hadn’t changed, that I still was the boy who lived for adventure and preferred airport floors to bedrooms and confinement. I envisioned carpet though, or soft seats, not being stuck outside of security on marble floors under blasting white lights with the echo of riding floor polish machines. I was dreadfully thirsty, and my back ached from dragging my suitcase from one terminal to the other down a sidewalk not meant to be walked. What kind of airport shuts down their train at night?  I let myself drift off with a ten minute timer on repeat set and places against my chest. I didn’t want to be deep asleep. 

 I thought of the test they did in the 70’s where they kept people from R.E.M. Sleep till they went psychotic. Would I drive myself psychotic? Was it the 70’s? They went psychotic, it didn’t matter. 

 The night came to an end at 4:30 in the morning. Or 3:30 apparently since I forgot to change my time.

 I pulled myself off the bench, letting the pain in my back drown out the protest of my stomach and attempted to sort out passport and visa paperwork and my 3 bags. I couldn’t think straight and I let my routines and double checking assure me of next step. It was all habit. My phone in my jacket pocket, wallet in my pants pocket, the left one, passport and boarding passes in the bottom pocket, headphone cord in top right. Check departure time, walk up to the desk, passport and boarding pass. Recite the phrase asking to check my bag and print new boarding passes. Request seat change, gather passport and boarding passes and walk towards security. Jacket off, pockets emptied from my pants pockets into their respective places in the jacket. Security line. Jacket in one tray with shoes and food, and backpack in the other tray. Let them slide through as I got patted down. Jacket on first, it had the important things in the pockets, like my cell phone and wallet. Shoes next, while holding the backpack. Triple check. Gate? No. Customs. Right. Paperwork out. Recite where I live. What’s my story? Repeat. What’s my story? 

 Smile. Blink. Don’t stutter. Thank you. Walk on. 

I still couldn’t think. But I didn’t need to. I had a system, I had checks. I knew I couldn’t think, so I had mental checklists. I loved this. This complete lack of control, but complete preparedness. I enjoyed it a lot more than I enjoyed laying on a hard bench trying to keep my eyes open. But one could not come without the other. 

 6:30 am. Time to board. I stank, but thats alright. I had applied several new layers of deodorant but I doubt it helped much. I sipped the last of my Starbucks coffee, and walked to board the plane. I liked this part. Flying. I wasn’t sure if I liked it because every time it was a new experience, or because like everything else in the airport it was a known and I had system for dealing with it. 

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Hypocrisy

“Your words are like knives, you spit them out with disgust. Your hate is a disease, it oozes out of your body like an infection. You don’t keep quiet, you paint the world in colour for all to see. But your words are full of distaste and bitterness. You make a show of the sacred and hold to the traditions as though they were your salvation,” 

This is where we sit. Fighting between orthodox reality and liberal enthusiasm. Every day we face hypocracy and fight against it with inaction. Authenticity is as shallow as our comments, and as weak as our actions. Every morning we awake to a new sunrise and treat it just as we did the last, we propose to live as silent as possible so our words may not be used against us. 

There are still ideas alive in the world that build on that true human hope, still people who believe we are worth more than just a convert, more than just a choice. There is still a hope someplace that we can belong, and make others belong. It is the core of what shold be christianity. That strangers are welcomed as brothers and neighbours are as valuable as we are. 

Instead of open arms today we are faced with complaceny on one spectrum and hatred on the other. We do not love, we hate. We do not move, we remain silent. Instead of neighbours and brothers I see enemies and opponents, converts or conservatives, we are projects or we are fear mongering supporters of Trump. 

Each of us is human, and the core of Christianity is our own inablility to be perfect. At the core christianity admits that at our best we are no better than our worst enemy, and at our worst we are slaves and servants of all humanity. 

“I Divide By Three”

I sat in the Seattle airport trying to hold the drooping skin around my eyes from pulling my eyelids shut. 26 hours awake and counting. My ipad screen full of homework reading went dim as I stared without moving through the rain covered glass.

 A man and his son came walking by, both with quivering lips and red, blinking eyes.  The older man was crying. His tears weren’t so sad as they were angry, and they weren’t so angry as they were scared. He choked back words, choked back tears and choked back the frustration in his voice. He spat out syllables, bit his own lip, and raked his hand furiously against his jeans. “I just divide by three,” the words came out in pieces that didn’t fit together. 

“What do you do with the thirds left over?” The boy’s lip quivered, and he kept staring at the floor and blinking madly. 

“I keep the one, move the other two away,” The man said, also avoiding eye contact. 

With a rush the boy hugged the older man, taking the poor old man off guard. “It’s gonna be all right?” He asked. 

“It,” The man paused. Clearing his throat. “It is.” He hugged the boy back. “I still have one third,”

Complacent 

The light from outside has the gray tint that makes my eye lids sag, though it’s only half past noon.The cool air that drifts up and down these hallways brings the tinge of Christmas cinnamon that could put any soul to sleep. There are coloured lights and funny Christmas decoration hung all around, and  stone dead classic Christmas tunes are filtering down the hall from the coffee shop. I have my notebooks and textbooks scattered around me on a big round table, though the amount of work I am getting done is little to none. There are words being tossed back and forth around me, nothing special, nothing more than people wasting time and spreading gossip.

There are so many people doing nothing. A hoard of humans wandering the halls, making friends, and being freinds, and being outsiders, and making others outsiders. There is no purpose outside of each of ourselves. We go to class, so we get /our/ grades, make freinds so /we/ don’t feel left out, do our projects because they are required. It may prepare /us/ for later work. There is no reality making us better people. If we cooked dinner, that’s a success. People have been cooking and eating since the start of the world, how is that success?

It’s a great big world out there. Full of people dying, starving, suffering, losing, and being lost. Here we are, studying so we can make the world a better place, yet our biggest loss is the goodbyes we said leaving home, and the breakup that was destined to happen.  Our doors are shut and locked, and ninety percent of the input into our lives is from peers who don’t know any different. Professors would love to help, but they are paid to teach groups, not live by students and create the norms we live by.

“It’s school,”

But we created this norm ourselves. When we became okay with mediocrity and complacency and we left behind the drive to find something greater. When we allowed gossip to run our conversations, and dating to take over our thought life, we filled all the space and didn’t leave any room for learning or caring.

My coffee sitting on the table slowly gets colder while I trace patterns on the page with my fingers. Complacency.

Do You Remember? 

“Do you remember?” Little droplets of rain ran down his hat and dripped onto his gray coat. He kept his hands burried in his pockets. 

“Yes” she smiled with her head bowed against the wind. She stood right in the middle of a puddle, letting the water lap against her boots, but she didn’t seem to mind. 

“It kind looks like…” He looked up at the sky, tracing the cloud outlines with his mind. 

“The way the it looks and smells. But it’s much too cold,” she nodded. 

“But the outlines,” 

“And all the brick buildings,” she smiled. 

“Dad said dinosaurs  used to play soccer on the fields on the other side of that funny building with the silver windows. You didn’t believe him. I think you told him dinosaurs didn’t have soccer balls,” He laughed. 

“Then the rain made rivers all down the red mud. You put a stick in one and asked dad if it would float to the ocean,” 

“Dad never did answer me. He just laughed.” 

“We all laughed,” 

“A lot,” He sighed. 

“I miss those days,” she whispered into the wind.

“I miss dad,” he whispered back. 

Growing Up/Weary

I used to think that the best feeling in the world was being alone. Being surrounded by people but having no connection. I liked the way it felt to be half way over an ocean with nothing but strangers and my headphones. Something about the noise that wouldn’t end, and the distance to the earth made me feel alive. I thrive on the unknown. The distance between me and other humans. I love being trapped in an aluminum tube shooting through the sky with a couple hundred strangers.

Like everyone else I grow older and change. I still love traveling. I still thrive off change, and I still can’t live long with the known. I feel claustrophobic  and caged when everything I see are things I have seen before, when people act like they know me.  I no longer prefer to be always be alone. I wish now for family. My family has been (almost) everywhere I have been. They know all the crazy things I lived through, and the true story behind the “He spoke Spanish” comment. I don’t have to explain the hard bits about where I am from. They get it.

I used to only dream of being alone on a plane, now sometimes I just remember back to having my little brother with me on a plane, or when we both woke up in a strange hotel room and tried to remember which country we were in. I remember inside jokes about the times we tried to buy things with the wrong currency.

I guess its a sign I getting old. The alone is wearing. It gets old always being alone, always seeing something new and trying to capture it in your memory because there will never be anyone around to bring it up. I find myself weary of my own thoughts.

Someplace In The Sky

One mile above California, 5:46pm.The sun is falling in gold and orange out of the sky. A mile high, and I watch the blue turn to fire and the clouds to shining silver. The blinking wing strobe keeping perfect time to my heavy breathing as the dry cabin air burns it’s way in and out of my lungs. The little round window reflects the aching in my soul, and the sharp contrast on the horizon is an echo of the divide in my heart. I have never been so alone as I am right now, ten thousand feet above the earth. But the clouds are the best company as I continue to ask myself the only question I can think of above the droning of the engines. Why am I most myself when I am farthest from where I am home? 

The cold keeps my skin in constant goose bumps, and my stomach keep flip flopping while my eyes slowly dry out. By now I can’t feel my toes, and my mind is trapped in an aluminum tube speeding through the sunset. 

“Let me go,” I keep whispering to myself. 

Here and there little lights turn on as tired souls try to find relief from the stretching silence by reading some worn out story. A little farther down the row a man lounges back in a first class seat sipping a glass of cheap wine and watching a action film. His Apple Watch lights up, I guess he is connected to the inflight wifi. Passing time.

I want to pass time, but I want time to stand still. Because somehow, while I am floating above the globe watching the clouds grow darker and the light fade from the sky, I don’t feel as if my world is ending. It’s as if my life sits out in the open, right next the little ball of flames sinking below the horizon. It reads like an open book, and everything that is to come seems simply fine, If I can float above a spinning world, maybe I can make it though a few more hours of chaos. Maybe I can make my next flight, make my next appointment, make the the next week, maybe I can survive till the next moment of peace. 

“Play it slower// play it slower// I don’t want this to be over,” this would be romance, if there was anyone else here. This could be falling in love, but my heart is beating alone. Every past smile seems closer than ever though, for some reason. Like it’s right there, as sharp as the line on the horizon, as bold as the red of the sunset. I miss… Everything.

My eyes continue to sag into a much needed sleep just as the captain announces our decent into Orange County California.

Twenty more minutes. There is a time deficient, even at the edge of the earth. 

Alone

Alone. 

It’s a word we don’t like, one that we pretend doesn’t exist. It’s a plague, a sickness, a sign. Stay away, he is alone. 

“Alone,” 

He spoke the word without thinking, tried to backpedal, stumbling around, wishing he could take it back. The looks of horror from the surrounding people told him it was too late. “I mean…” He tried again. “I am going…” He trailed off. “By myself?” 

Silence. 

He blinked again, avoiding eye contact, and slowly backed away. He tried to keep his head up high, prove that he wanted to be alone. He walked quickly, tried not to look like he was running away, and finally slipped through the doors and into the cold. 

Alone. 

He kept to himself from that moment on. He avoided eye contact, and hello’s were brief and hard. No one wanted to be with someone who was alone. No one wanted to remove themselves from the comfort of their group enough to be considered alone with the stranger. He didn’t have a name anymore. Those who had once known quickly forgot, and those who never knew made sure they kept their ignorance. Better to avoid any connection to the person who may drag them out of the circle of the accepted. 

It was funny how it happened, he arrived a moment too late, and first impressions kill, so here he was, doomed to the circle of the outcasts. Now when he looked back the memory was crystal clear, and he knew exactly where he went wrong. someone asked who he was going to chapel with. He tried to express his desire to join them, only to to distance himself completely. 

Alone. We judge so quickly, move so swiftly, cover our own back, and work towards our own acceptance. There is something about society that keeps those who are friendless completely alone. Some fear that it’s contagious or long lasting. 

Silence. 

It’s been many groups since that first one he walked away from, and now he expects to be alone. When he walks into a room he expects silence. He gave up long ago on looking around for a  welcoming smile or nod. Now he walks as if he is invisible, fading into corners, slipping through shadows, tiptoeing through crowds as a ghost. He is the shadow you may see from time to time in front of you in line ordering a coffee, the soft voice saying ‘excuse me” as you look around for the source. He is the unknown, the unnamed, he is the ghost of our indifference. He is alone. 

Magnify

He pulled his phone out, retreated behind the screen, left the cries of those around him, and found solace in the flashing of his own screen. The macbook came out next. Around him dozens more followed suit. Retreating in fear behind the walls of their technology. People put up their invisible walls, turned their heads downwards and kept from making eye contact. His name was… but that doesn’t matter, he had three thousand followers, and they all wanted to hear what he had to say about the recent world events. He sat still as possible, typing up his Facebook post careful so as not to offend anyone. his peppermint mocha was the only thing to raise his head. Poverty outside the door didn’t budge him from his safe place, he preferred to look into the depths of cyber space for his answers anyway. Every answer at his finger tip, he could solve the world’s problems with a click of his mouse.

Everywhere around him people kept their heads down and solved problems from behind the nice wooden desks. Charity came from the little “give now” icons and the emojis that fell from type happy finger tips were the most smiles that could be seen.

It didn’t take him long to stop caring, to stop feeling deeply, to stop being an individual. It doesn’t take long to become one of many when culture and humanity are replaced by technology. When a handshake is is just “deal” typed out with two fat thumbs. When your passwords are  your soul and your Instagram is your face.

###

I tried not to shiver from the air-conditioning  that blew down my back, watched as the numbers on my screen went up,  more readers on my latest post. Tried to hide my dismay when a refresh didn’t show any more hearts on my latest Instagram post.

The man sitting on the other side of the glass smiled at me from his pile of old clothes and blankets. As i walked out the door I said hello, and asked how he enjoyed the weather.

“The sun feels nice after spending a few nights in the rain,”  He smiled up at me. His head pulling him upright. “Can’t believe what happened last night though honestly, if I had a passport I might move to Canada,” he laughed again and gave me a little wink.

I smiled back, tried not to blink too hard in the bright sunlight. I had heard that joke a few too many times in the last two hours to laugh too hard at it. I slid my phone out of my pocket, gave the man a little wave, and then checked my messages. Nothing.

Creativity is harder when you can bump up against unlimited information with the touch of a button. When all the information in the world is at your fingertips, to be found without effort, how is it possible to have an original thought?

###

He kept his headphones on, watching in excitement as stats changed real time on his screen. A little add came up on his screen for a pair of manly leather boots and a red plaid shirt. Thirty seconds later the screen promised they would arrive in one to two business days. Red plaid and those leather boots. How well the internet kept track of his taste!

Two days later he walked out the door in his new attire, he was greeted by a flood of young men, all wearing leather boots and red plaid shirts. “They have great taste,” he thought as he hurried down the road, toting his one of a kind, hand made, leather shoulder bag. The same one that every man he passed had. A sign of individuality.

###

I kept my head down as a I walked past a man with a pair Carhart pants and a ball cap. “That guy knows what’s real,” I felt a little self conscious in my jeans and Vans shoes. He probably thought me a lesser man. Thirty seconds later I walked into school and suddenly felt out of place. I was surrounded by straight cut natural coloured pants and plaid shirt, and a few pairs of thick rimmed glasses, and a hallway of boat shoes. I immediately regretted my choice of a bright blue hoodie and Under Armour hat. I looked uneducated, and god-forbid, undedicated to academics.

I sighed in relief as I slid into my car. No more judgement. I pulled my phone out and refreshed Instagram. A group of guys appeared on my screen, all toting leather bags and nicely groomed beards, they were posed looking at the sky. “Now there is a cool crew of guys,” I promised myself I would someday have a group of friends like that.

###

He took a step outside. Cell phone in his pocket with a dead battery. He breathed in deeply, and smiled. But his smile faded away when he saw the sign above his head that read “We are all killing this planet, one pair of shoes at a time, save the planet and buy —–” He looked down at his shoes, saw his beautiful leather boots. “I am killing the planet, one cow at a time,” He scuffed his heals, then stood up straighter. “I am killing myself, one little piece of information at a time,” He pulled out his phone and pushed the voice control, “How do you help your self esteem?” The screen stayed black. “Dang dead battery,” he stood on the sidewalk, holding his dead cell phone up in front of his face, looking at his reflection in the black screen. His pale face stared back through his bushy black beard. “Almost time to dye my beard again,” he muttered.

 

 

 

Crisis

Every time the phone rings my heart drops to my stomach and whatever is on my mind fades away as my feet prepare to run. I don’t like stability. Firm footing is not something I strive for. I like to fall, to feel the wind and the rush. There is nothing better than the feeling of no control as you plummet down a mountain knowing that stopping is not an option.  I don’t know if my habits die hard, or if with every call I am just waiting and wishing for something to fall apart. By now it’s just an inate desire that separates me from the rest of reality.

Crisis is easy. that feeling of unknown is the only thing that gets my heart beat going anymore. When the floor falls out from under my feet I feel like I am flying. It’s the way that everything else in the whole world fades away and I have only the moment to look at. The future and the past become inconsequential compared with the looming crisis.

That moment when the phone rings, and my feet are set in motion, where I stop thinking and simply act, where habits that have been drilled deep into my brain come out without conscious thought. That moment is where I finally lift my feet off the ground, pull my head out of the mire of mediocrity, and begin to get things done.

Crisis forces change. More than anything crisis requires action. Crisis doesn’t allow for petty things, or overthinking, it demands full attention and focus. Change  turns to improvement and growth if you allow it. Maybe I like the upwards climb, or maybe my fear of complacency has turned to a love of crisis. Either way, someday I may learn to settle down, but for now I like how much falling feels like flying.