Friday, December 18, 2009

dave loves airports

the first rush of the morning has subsided, i've refilled on coffee and the story is taking shape. colleen jones was here for a few skype hits and to finish the piece she's working on- they filmed enough for a documentary, so it should be plenty for a 3-minute spot on the cbc tonight.

here's an update on the story so far: why dave loves airports.

It was 7:36am now and the airport was picking up. A handful of loose people sat in the central benches and a few more lined the edges. Flight attendants confidently wheeled toward their planes. A crowd gathered at the departures board, scanning for the critical information. So far, pretty good – only a few delays, despite the weather.
Dave checked for his flight, but it wasn’t on the board yet. He checked online – it was still scheduled to depart Saturday at 2pm.
That was part of the plan this year – a long lead-in time to acclimatize himself to the idea of leaving. To settle his nerves.
A woman walked past him, glancing at him. He smiled. Asked her where she was heading.
“Florida,” Shirley said. Fifty-something, blond and smiling, she happily wheeled her suitcases toward the departure gate. She was from Halifax, but was heading south to visit family. This was her sixth straight Christmas in Florida - the first trip came during the Year of Her Divorce. She stayed six months then, seeking solace in the sun, but the trip had gotten shorter every year. This year, she could only spare two weeks. Still.
She couldn’t afford anything at all when she was married to ‘that creep’. Divorce had turned out well for her. She had a good job and an even better annual escape to the sun. In the intervening years, the creep had remarried – and had two strokes. Shirley, meanwhile, was hitting her stride. She hauled her suitcases cheerily down the hall, heading for another fortnight in the sun.
Dave wished her luck as she wheeled away.
He used to hate airports – all that lining up, moving around, waiting and rushing, poking and prodding, wands waving, bags unpacked by gloved hands, toothpaste confiscated, scissors seized. He had a theory that Franz Kafka had predicted the invention of modern, airports. The Trial was a traffic ticket compared to this.
But over the last ten years, being the motionless piece of a perpetual motion machine, he had grown to appreciate the busy beauty of the airport. Humans arrived as people with problems, but as soon as they stepped through the door, they were stripped of their individuality and became cogs in the perpetual motion machine.
Dave liked becoming an airport cog. He liked the clear sense of purpose, the lack of responsibility. Year-round, he struggled to make sense of his life, to decide what to do next. In the airport, it was easy – machines, flashing signs, elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks and certain staff guided your every step.
How happy life would be, he often thought, if it was all airport.
But most of all, he loved the clean, well-lit space. At home, his world was shadows. Sitting in his living room, drinking tea to the light of the TV, sadness would sink on him like a setting sun. He’d roam the streets, looking for a late-night café, but even then the mood lighting was low, taking his spirits down with it.
Christmas at home was the worst. There is nothing sadder than a single man’s Christmas tree, badly decorated with broken bulbs. He had spent many such blue Christmases before his first failure to launch. He didn’t miss them.
Now, he happily hopped into the taxi to spend Christmas at the airport. The giant wreath hung over the central lobby, trees tucked into every corner and birds chirped carols from the roof.
It was always the middle of the day in the airport. It was always warm, always sunny, even if the sun beamed down from the lights.
Dave could sit, tapping his passport and tickets on his knee, and just let life wash over him.
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