Airports are for people watching. Your wait time will be less annoying and more useful if you study others, invent their life stories, take mental snapshots of clothing DOs and DON'Ts. All the while you should be eating things you’d never eat like French toast sticks or an enormous bag of stale trail mix. This is what makes a terminal seating area worthwhile. This is what makes a flight delay fun. This is what makes waiting for your luggage bearable. Let the bustle of to-and-fro be like a play unfolding just for you.
So we land and we’re tired and we go to baggage claim. That’s when the lastima takes off. I see huddles of people waiting for their loved ones, holding up signs, standing on tiptoes and asking, “Is that him?!” There’s a teenage girl with pink highlights and I imagine she’s picking up her father. She usually writes journal entries about how much she hates him, but today she’ll be his ride home. A bald man paces and talks on a cell, and I picture him as a robot inside, secretly a machine. Nobody knows except the scientist coming to town to reprogram him. Then there’s the guy with a service dog who I wish was greeting me. I’d hug his canine and whisper “thank you” into a furry ear. Behind them all, a smiling face is floating up on the escalator from the parking garage. She is glowing. She is perfect.
For sure her lover has just deplaned. I am certain of it. She’s wearing a long, sexy, flowing blue dress and her makeup is fresh and her hair is done up high. I take note of how beautiful a long neck can be. She’s already fluttering inside, anticipating his arrival, and is this a long distance relationship? A husband in the army? Is she having an affair that overpowers her better judgement?
In the midst of my staring, assuming my husband will keep eyes on the carousel, a loud buzz rings out. Her ascent has reached the top but she cannot unmount. She is stuck in the mouth of the escalator, her blue dress pulled deep into its gears. People behind her brush past, a repairman quickly appears and gets to work, and I begin to worry that the man she’s waiting for will show up. NO! He can’t see her like this, all done up and in a jam. NOT NOW! She starts to panic about it too, glancing at her watch, sweating, primping, tugging at the fabric. This is ruining her plan! This will kill a perfect moment! Her embarrassment hurts me, and I want to be her cover-up. I want to distract his eyes. I want to find scissors and set her free.
Too late, he’s here, I can tell from her face. I follow her gaze across the room to find a gorgeous man, and I understand her concern and her outfit. The lastima is turbulent until it turns into relief. He walks right to her, steps over the escalator-service-guy, and hugs her hard. Maybe it’s her imperfection that he loves most.
p.s. By the time they left, our bags had FINALLY arrived! Glad my husband was there to notice.