Airports are strange places, that few of us enjoy. Long lines at security and overcrowded terminals make them pretty soul-less places. However, none of us could easily travel anywhere, without using them so for me it is usually just a case of grinning and bearing it. So to pass the time I usually apply the ideas I first described in my earlier post The Zen of Flying. However, as a writer it is often hard for me to resist distracting myself in another way. For sometimes I will look at the many faces around until I notice a solitary but often interesting looking character and then imagine his or her life. Why are they flying today, what motivates them, and what upsets them until in this way I can create a false, yet interesting history for them. Today I have already given a gentleman sitting in the area for a flight to Sicily a dangerous past, where his run-ins with the mafia, once cost him his first business, but still he had the courage to start up another one, the effort of which is keenly etched upon his face.
Photo by Robert S. Donovan
Sitting across from me is a slightly overweight Greek looking woman (although she could easily be Turkish, if she wasn’t waiting for a flight to Athens). She displays that distinct signature of women of a certain age from the Aegean area: too much make-up, dyed blonde hair and mutton dressed as lamb clothing, which I often feel contributes to the look of a drag queen. Although on this occasion, this lady has become a fading pop star (because she insists on wearing shades, despite the torrential rain outside) with the lines, despite her botox, of a mercurial career etched across her face
Sometimes I even wonder what my fellow passengers make of me, that is if they even notice me at all. Would they guess anywhere near the truth? That I am a man now into his second month of travelling, a man who has seen more old friends and relatives in 2 weeks than in the previous 2 years, a man still adjusting to a new phase in his life, a man who, because of all of that has happened since the spring, is now more than ready for a period of rest and recuperation in friendly restorative surroundings, which will eventually allow him to plan a more fulfilling future, doing more of the things he wants to do, rather than the things he felt obligated to do until quite recently.
Returning to my airport game I will often go on to imagine those characters, I have created, eventually sitting together and striking up a conversation (language is never a problem), until they eventually both reveal the past I have just burdened them with, until the game enters another phase of possibilities, opportunities or lost chances. Perhaps a mutual interest will reveal itself or maybe even a romance will be born – for the realm of the mind and invention can provide countless permutations and possible outcomes. Which, like life itself can provide unequal doses of excitement, curiosity or simply more misery than one could have ever expected when a new adventure first revealed itself. And sometimes, just sometimes, I will put pen to paper and make it real.
So… next time you find yourself delayed or with time to kill at an airport – just accept that there is nothing you can do to change the situation and so stop constantly checking the departures board, or playing with your phone and create your own unique story from the characters around you. Yes it will take a bit of practice, but who knows, you may just create a bestseller!
My writing and some extra travelling commitments mean that this blog will now only be posted every fortnight for the foreseeable future – However, its my intention to make it weekly again sometime in the Autumn.