Overheard at the Airport

I made it to the gate in plenty of time, but all the seats were already taken. I decided it was not a bad idea to stand anyway, so I stepped just off the carpeted area onto the dull linoleum of the wide corridor full of people coming and going, some of them slowly sauntering and others sprinting, panting and sweating, panicked, to make it before the door shut and they would be left to the harrowing ordeal of arranging a different flight. There were other people also standing there waiting for boarding to begin; some alone engaged with their phones, others chatting in small clusters, a mom with her toddler playing a kind of chase game in a small circle that made me smile.

I suddenly became aware of a man in a dark pink polo shirt talking with someone on the phone. I realized that person was in the airport somewhere and he was trying to tell them where he was in the sprawling center of global transit. He said, “Well I can stay on the phone with you while you find your way here.” Whoever it was must have agreed, because he continued to chat with a look of amusement and happiness on his face.

I began to wonder and imagine who this beloved person might be? “Did you catch up with everyone you wanted to?” he asked. Then he mentioned how they must be in the glass walkway now. He laughed at something enthusiastically. I became more and more intrigued, and was now looking forward to seeing this mysterious person perhaps nearly as much as the man in the dark pink shirt.

Possibilities flooded in. Something in me thought they must be a woman, by the tone of his voice, the way he laughed, how he wanted to be right there with her until they would finally see each other from some distance away, waving at each other. Perhaps she would run to the gate, or both of them would run through this sea of people, all heading to some other city, state, or country, but these two finally arriving in the destination of each other’s arms. Could she be his wife, daughter, sister, new love, old flame, long time friend and confidant?

I cheered internally for new love. That would be maximum theater, pure passion, and I relished the thought of witnessing such a scene.

I heard him say, “Come down the stairs at the dinosaur.” Then beaming a smile, “I still don’t see you, but you must be close. Guess what color shirt I am wearing.” I wanted to rip the phone from his hands and say, “Dark pink! His shirt is dark pink, now hurry up and get over here so I can see the passionate climax of this story!”

He mentioned we would be boarding soon, and something about how it was up to her if she had time.

I was about dying now, and wondering how it was possible she was not here yet? Did she stop to pick out a quick gift for him, or duck off behind the T-Rex skeleton breathing heavy, considering whether to meet him at this gate of destiny or run away among the sprinting and panicking people?

He finally said, “Oh I think I see you now, yes I do. What, you don’t see me yet? Really?” Then a wide smile and a wave.

There was no running at all. He just stood there waving and beaming that smile to someone in the crowd, that I in great frustration could not tell apart from any other of the people in the crowded corridor.

Then she was there. Yes, a woman! I knew it! They embraced and kissed on the lips not a peck, but not the long kiss of fiery passion I had been writing in the cheap romance novel that had sprung up in my brain.

He said something about passing by, glad she made it, and something else I could not hear. I caught him telling her to have a safe trip, and talk soon. Then she turned and walked away.

Just like that, she walked out of my life forever.

The lady at the gate got on the overhead and announced our flight was ready to begin boarding.

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