Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Airport Imaginings

     I enjoy eavesdropping on people's conversations in the airport waiting room.  In the generally close quarters, it is not hard to do, and many of them are not shy about their phone conversations or dialogue with someone in a nearby seat. One I overheard on this trip was a businessman on his phone who said he was "rotting at the gate for a few hours."  I had to chuckle.  I like the airport waits.  Just people watching entertains me, and I always have enough with me to read and write for hours, appreciating the uninterrupted time (unless I get distracted by the activity around me).
     Perhaps it is the writer in me, creating characters and scenes, but I love to wonder why that person is like s/he is.  What is their "backstory," their history that has affected who they are today?  If I was writing their story, what would it be?
     Obviously, for the sake of personal privacy, I don't have pictures of these people, but imagine them with me:

One very large, wide man, lost in his headphones, eyes closed, hiding, secluded, isolated from the world around him. Something in his life has caused him to shut out the world. Hope I don't have to sit next to him (I didn't).

A businessman, blue dress shirt and dark tie, loosely knotted, laptop out, typing out a report on today's appointments, making notes for tomorrow's accounts in another city, pausing to gaze out the window and wonder how his family is doing at home.

The black man in the olive green "Hawaii" hat and a gray beard looks like he has long blond hair, but as he adjusts in his seat, I see it is the hair of the gal behind him, lined up just right with my view.  He looks better with his own hair. His papers are spread in his lap, he sorts through them, reading and re-reading.  Is he headed for a job interview, or preparing a presentation to a business?

A mom, her daughter, and her curly tow-headed daughter, talk and laugh together.  Grandma takes the granddaughter off for a walk while mom reads a magazine, then mom takes the daughter while grandma reads the same magazine.  They are off to see the little girl's dad.  Perhaps he is stationed at a base in Colorado Springs, and the wife lives with her mom?  He will be very glad to see his cute little energetic girl.

Two sisters, one with two young kids, the little girl's hair tight in cornrows, beads and barrettes. She is active, happy and likes to sing.  Where are they all headed together?  To visit their brother and his kids, who live in the mountains west of Denver, with lots of space to run and play, unlike their Chicago home?

The young men, fresh out of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center boot camp, dressed in their black wide collared uniforms, white sailor hat in hand, manilla envelope tucked under their arm with the orders to their next assignment, their medical records and information inside, headed for service to our country.  Most of them are serious, walking in pairs, but some are still light-hearted, playing like kids on the moving walkway. Because we have had a son and a daughter come through this same path, I know that they have just been through a very rough eight weeks, and still do not have an easy road ahead of them. They all look so young. On this trip, we saw only young men.  Another trip, the group included young ladies, too, and I remember watching a pair of them attempting to not walk in step, laughing at their inability after weeks of training to walk in step. These young men make me think more of the future, what is in store for each of them, where will they go, who will they meet, what skills will they learn that will influence the rest of their lives?

A mix of suits and ties, uniforms, pajamas and flip-flops, jeans and boots (in Denver add a cowboy hat). Young and old, big and tall, little and cute, energetic and shuffling, lively and glum. Some encumbered with luggage, jackets, purses, shopping bags - or those who have mastered traveling light, a skill I'm afraid I have yet to master.
Everyone has an interesting story; it is fun to think about and imagine each one.

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