Once upon a time, I used to try to post something every other day, or at least every three days. Now, it seems I am lucky if the muse descends once a week. Probably because the most exciting thing to happen to me in recent days was re-arranging the living room. I have to say, it does look an awful lot nicer now!
Next week, I am due to get on a plane to go on our holiday/trip. E. is already away on business, and in thinking about how I would get myself to the airport, I remembered a little story I had meant to relate in January when I returned from Florida. It's one of these "apropos of nothing" tales, so doesn't fit in neatly anywhere, except perhaps as padding in my current museless state.
I was sitting in the Stateside airport on a very long layover. I had finally slumped into a chair after hours and hours of padding around the terminal in a feverishly bored state. At the gate, a fellow passenger was talking on her cell phone.
Now, I should state from the outset that I was not trying to eavesdrop on her conversation- but nor was she making any special attempt to lower her tone, and she could clearly see I was sitting there within earshot. There was something in the way she was speaking; slightly tense, slightly awkward that caught my notice. Also, she closely resembled someone I used to share a house many years ago, so I was surrepetitiously observing her, in the way you do when you think it might just be possible that it actually is that person.
Suddenly I heard her changing her tone, as if speaking to a small child. She was explaining that "the lady from the church" was coming to take care of him. Yes, tonight. No, she didn't know the lady's name. No, ask your father, he'll tell you. Yes, she would try to phone later. Be good. Bye bye.
There was something about this that gave me a bit of pause- she was flying overseas, and didn't know the name of the person coming to take care of her child in her absence? Then I remembered it was none of my goddamn business and gave myself a sharp mental jostle, putting myself back in my place. The woman closed her phone with a sharp snap before wandering off in the direction of the food hall.
But as it happened, she ended up sitting one row opposite and behind me. The flight was half empty and both of us had an entire row to ourselves. I took the opportunity to move to the window seat, whereupon I tried to contort myself into a supine position while still complying with the Fasten SeatBelt sign. Rather unsuccessfully, I might add- a bit too constraining around the midriff for comfort. The woman, on the hand, remained in her aisle seat, her coat wrapped tightly around her, staring blankly into the distance. She did not read, she did not eat. She barely moved the entire flight.
When we landed, there was the usual kerfuffle of disembarking, collecting bags, shuffling through immigration. I like to move briskly when I arrive- gets the blood moving, you know- and the woman kept pace with me. At customs, I lost sight of her as she dashed on ahead. But as I rolled my cart into the arrival hall, there she was, right at the entrance, in a passionate clinch with a tall man. Kissing, kissing, kissing as if the world was coming to an end.
I moved on, of course; it was not polite to stare. However, in the days that followed, I found myself continuing to wonder about her. Who was that man? Why was she flying to meet him in Scotland? Did her (ex?) husband know? Who was the lady from the church and why didn't she know her name? And why doesn't anybody snog me like that when I arrive, apart from the obvious dangers of plane breath?
I suppose her story will always remain a small mystery, just one of those passing moments which so frequently occur on journeys. But it cheered me a little to realise that at times, it may not always be better to travel hopefully than to arrive.
Because sometimes, the arrival can be pretty damn great, too.