It’s early. That eerie time when the moon doesn’t yet want to relinquish the sky, but the inevitable rays of the sun push against the rigid horizon, threatening to break through the deep purple barrier of the night’s sky. Distant footsteps echo in my ears until they’re a stomping Clydesdale sidling up next to me.
“Everything okay, sir?”
I nod before I look up. When I do, I read her nametag; it says Lena. The same Lena who frisked me coming through the TSA line of which I was the only queuer. The same Lena whose overeager hand paused a few seconds too long as it cupped my genitals through my jeans. No weapons. Only an empty peashooter. Her face was a blank slate but her eyes held a hint of disappointment. A look I’ve grown accustomed to seeing on women’s faces.
“If you need anything, I’ll be right over there.”
She pointed to one of the nearby information desks. I wonder, did she get promoted or demoted from the security checkpoint? Or perhaps she was a Jill of all trades? Maybe she was filling in for a TSA agent who was running late. Is that allowed? It doesn’t matter.
I didn’t come in with luggage. I’m not waiting for a plane. I’m never waiting for a plane. But I am waiting.
The hours go by and I count the airplanes as they come in and take off again. People of all races and from various countries of origin crowd around but nobody sees me. Nobody cares. Though, that’s not entirely true. I catch glimpses of TSA agents staring at me every so often. But it’s not a crime to sit in an airport terminal. If I were to tell them that I’m sure it would do little to stifle their suspicions.
“Headed to Phoenix?”
I was lost, staring out the window when the voice startled me. In the seat next to me sat an elderly woman, smiling as she awaited my response.
“Not today.” Her warm smile showed no hint of suspicion. This made me uneasy. “I’m just, waiting.”
And that was that. She continued smiling and shifted her attention to a book that was sitting opened upon her lap.
“Oh.” She said it as if her gay grandson just came out to her. “Oh.” She said it as if she knew furthering the conversation would lead to an awkward situation she’d rather avoid. And perhaps that’s what she was doing. Perhaps that’s the key to a long life. Avoid awkward situations. Ignore causes of stress. Smile. “Oh.”
A member of the boarding crew announced that the first group of passengers was now permitted to board the plane. I watched as the gate emptied and I was the only one remained seated. I received a few strange looks from the boarding crew but nobody bothered me.
The plane took off on time. All different kinds of people heading to all sorts of situations. Some familiar. Some new. Some bad. Some good. A whole world of experiences and they all began at the airport. How grand it must be.
“Going any place fun?”
I looked to the middle-aged man who had sat down across from me. “Not today. I’m just, waiting.”