The Terminal

Schiphol Gate D, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsThe terminal is huge. I should know. I’ve been wandering around it for the past hour, people watching. You’ve done it before. Don’t pretend you haven’t. It’s easy. Just sit down in a spot and pretend to be doing something else. Periodically check your watch, or study your fingernails, or even put on your sunglasses and pretend to be asleep. Then just listen to what’s going on around you. You’d be surprised at what you’re privy to when people don’t know you’re watching or listening to them.

But finding a spot to stop is tricky, because terminals work in cycles, just like anywhere else. Planes aren’t always taking off or arriving, but when they do either of these two things mad rushes ensue at different parts of the vast terminal. There are people running late who are dodging others left and right to try and make it to their gate. There are people who are hurrying to line up because they know how long it takes to board the airplane and they want to be able to relax in their seats as soon as possible. There are people who are waiting for others to get off the plane so they can embrace and appreciate a closeness that has been absent as long as they have been separated.

So I stop at Gate D44 because it’s not crowded with people in line for a flight or with people waiting to greet those disembarking from a flight. In fact, only two small groups of people are in the chairs servicing the gate. I glance briefly at the board and see that the next flight to Stockholm leaves from this gate in three hours. I sit down. I’m not going to Stockholm but I’m interested to see who is. This is the glory of watching and listening to strangers. I put on my sunglasses and lean back in my chair. I am directly across from the nearest small group of passengers, three people who somewhat resemble each other.

“I wish we didn’t have to get here so early,” the girl with blonde hair says. She is probably 15 years old, and already bored with the grand adventure. She is wearing a white t-shirt and short shorts. She pops her gum and I am reminded of when I used to pop my gum. Continue reading “The Terminal”

@ 30th Street Station

Amtrak30thStreetStationInterior2007An old homeless man is screaming at me. He is as drunk as the day is long, and I wonder where he procured alcohol from. Did someone hand over some of their hard earned money knowing what he would do with it? Is it possible he was holding up one of those “Will Work For Food” signs that seemed so popular in the ’90s and suckered in some bystanders, thinking he would actually work for them or that he actually wanted food? And he’s yelling at me in some language I am not familiar with as I stand in line to get tickets for the next train to New Jersey. I don’t even want to go to New Jersey, the land of a thousand sewers and of the Holland Tunnel, or at least a part of that illustrious tunnel. I would really rather go home and go to sleep but I know she’s waiting for me in Secaucus, in the Radisson Hotel where they put mints on the pillow and the keys are really cards.

He finally moves on after I pay him no mind, that homeless man who is drunk on cheap wine, replaced by a woman who had been hidden by his bulk. She is his opposite, sporting a stylish tweed jacket with jewels for buttons and smelling of jasmine with a hint of honeysuckle. I only know those scents because my soap is made of the self-same, and I wonder if somehow the two of us, strangers until this moment, share the same soap. I also wonder what else we possibly share, and I am reminded that this is a small world after all, whether or not we’re on that creepy ride made so popular in the Magic Kingdom. We are six degrees separated from each other, but we probably share at least one Facebook friend. I don’t talk to her, though, as the sounds of the old man’s screams still echo in my ear.

And she’s wearing white pants, even though it’s after Labor Day, but they still suit her, fitting tightly to her body. I don’t stare too long, though, because I know she will notice. She seems like one of those women who notice those things, not like the millions who are oblivious to leering guys. Continue reading “@ 30th Street Station”

@ The Library

As I sit here I am inundated with inane conversations from every side. And it’s the one time I can honestly feel invisible. As long as I keep my head down, and as long as I’m looking at my phone while I piece this post together, I will continue to be so. And the things … Continue reading @ The Library