I like airports. And planes. I like trains and train stations. Bus stops, not so much – too ordinary – but planes and trains have so much promise, somehow.
Maybe it’s because they’re the ultimate in in between places. No one lives there, no one owns it, no one really likes it there, no one stays there for long. And yet, such magical moments happen there, such large transitions, farewells, meetings, returnings, exiles.
I love the in between places in life. When you have an epiphany in the shower. When you enter a public toilet stall and suddenly realise that something in your life has shifted and you were too busy thinking about what to have for dinner or how annoying the people you love are to notice but now, suddenly, in the spasming flourescent light, you realise that nothing is the same.
I was sitting in Adelaide airport, that morning a few weeks ago. Free from work, waiting for a long awaited holiday to kick off, feeling the absence of an accustomed weight. I sat opposite two women. They looked vaugely familiar – one looked like my year 9 art teacher, I realised, and one like the younger sister of my ostensible high school ‘best friend’. Then again, it’s Adelaide – they might be people I catch the bus with, or see at the shops. They might by my neighbour’s sister. I am almost certainly connected to them in some way.
You used to have to walk right out on the tarmac at Adelaide airport. Right from the lounge where your family waved you off into the weather. Starting your journey on foot. This is not quite the same, but there is something charming about a rubbish bin on a dolly and a string of flags being all that’s keeping the passengers boarding at the rear from being sucked into the engines.
I was half watching them. They were so different. The one on the left was short, fat, just creeping past middle age. Short red hair, dyed, glasses were a deep, bright metallic colour. Purple, maybe. Dressed the trendy side of expensive. She sat with her hands clasped accross her belly, legs out.
The one on the right was thin and angular, long blonde hair tumbling from her head, plain black thick rimmed glasses. Young – just out of university, maybe. Dressed the expensive side of trendy. The sat perched on her seat, folded up almost, hands draped on her lap or by her sides.
They looked so different, I thought. They must be related – otherwise I wouldn’t expect to see two people whose lives must be so seperate sitting together like that. And then I looked up from my book just as they had obviously finished one of those small conversations you have with someone you know well, while you’re waiting. They were both staring into the distance, half smiles on their lips as if they were savouring the echo of a pleasant thought. And they were eerily similar, the thing that looked out from under their faces was the same.
I don’t know what the moral to that story is.
I love flying. I hate rollercoasters. You know that feeling you get in your stomach, when you’re on a rollercoaster? Or on an aeroplane and there’s turbulance? When I’m on a rollercoaster, a machine built for fun, the clitoris of the mechanical world with no other function… all I can think is that the car is going to come off the tracks and I’m going to dye a horrible death, and then I won’t be that misfortunate person who died a tragic death, I’ll be that idiot who died a senseless death for the sake of a funny feeling in her tummy.
But turbulance on a plane? Love it. Pure joy.
Don’t the fields look like patchwork? A cliche, I know. But those colours – brown and green and purple, more purple in real life. Glorious.