I have never seen airport employees work harder.
They are running endlessly, to and fro, looking at me with a smile that asks a question: “Do you need me to run with you to your gate?” “Would you like me to hold your bags?” “Would you like me to tow the plane back so that you can hop on it?” And I just slightly shake my head with a similar smile, perhaps not so inquisitive.
“I’m all right.”
I am at the Haneda airport in Tokyo, waiting for my 6:55 A.M. flight for New York City. It’s currently 1:41 A.M. I tried to sleep on the benches like the U.S. Soldiers were, but I could not. I think I may have offended a few Japanese sensibilities. A young woman, lying down in a public places to sleep.
I am exhausted. This vacation has long been needed. Months went by without so much of a long weekend, and I can feel it in my bones, my mind, my spirit, and my eyes right now that are closing but refuse to stay closed. My co-teacher will be different when I return and so will my classroom. So will the little free time I have. It will be easily overtaken by wedding planning in all its shades and scopes. Table settings, honeymoon, boutonnieres, confetti…
I cannot wait until I am in the arms of my beloved. It’s been almost exactly six months since I have seen him in person, and I forget many things about him. One of the first things I notice is his height. He is about a head taller than me. He walks like a boy, and his fingers are bony. I remember the freckles scattered over his left cheek, like some sloppy constellation. His liquid laughter, when given life, colors the walls of the room and brings a glow to the eyes of those who hear it. His suffocating hugs, ones that a hardy father would give – my beloved attempts these with his lanky arms nonetheless. His unabashed stares of contentment, the ones that leave me wondering again and again, what it is in me that he sees, feels, and knows.
I relish the solitary travel. The feeling of being unknown but realized. The state of being unimportant but present. I sit for hours and hours next to a complete strangers, and if by chance, we hit it off, we talk until it gets awkward and then talk again. And after we disembark, we may become Facebook friend who like each others’ pictures of our families, but we’ll never again have that delicious conversation that seems so precious and clandestine. Travel is fascinating. You embody nothing. One just is.
Gobbledygook. I think I think I’m being genius right now, but I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in a week. Here I go. Offending Japanese sensibilities once more.