She sits maybe thirty feet away from where I’m trying my damnedest to stay awake. Blue and lime streaks in her dark brown hair. Black velvet wedges, a wrist tattoo. Her spine leans into the book in her lap. If she’s on my flight she still has more than three hours to wait. Long enough to kill the rest of that book. Long enough for a lot of things.
My 3am wakeup taxes my ability to reason. I’ve already started and stopped a half dozen things, too tired to see them through. I’m also caught in some kind of clumsy loop. Misjudged the size of my backpack and banged into a pedastaled bowl of a million baggage tags while waiting in line for a boarding pass. Later I tripped on nothing while staring out the window watching a plane land. It was like my boat hit a rogue wave. Everything’s off. It’s lunchtime and I feel like it’s time for bed. Traveling is necessary to do what I love, but sometimes it sucks the big one. Today’s one of those days.
I didn’t want to leave Mexico City. The past few days I’ve been considering how I could live in the giant metropolis. Not that I would move actually there, but my level of comfort on the Metro, with the language, with day to day life in general reached a stress-free plateau. I’ve been just living, which feels good.
I write this during a six-hour layover in Houston Hobby. The countless laps I’ve made through the terminal are burning off junk food I’ve consumed. I’ve tried to be productive: written a little bit, started reading a new book, even tried to organize logistics for a family gathering during my final days in Rochester. But in the midst of each effort, I’ve fallen asleep. Like, dead asleep. Dreams and everything. One about someone stealing the tiny ceramic skulls I bought off a street vendor in Colonia Roma. Me giving chase and slipping on bright orange mango skins.
Right now, I’m riding a sugar high, people watching. For the past hour there’s been the same announcement over the intercom, “If you are missing your laptop, please return to the security checkpoint.” Every time it’s repeated I check my bag even though I’m typing on the very laptop I’m checking is still in my possession.
A handsome young guy sits on the floor near the woman and plugs in his phone charger. She looks up from her book, trying to be discreet. Gives him the sort of glance I want from a woman. The kind I maybe used to get. She checks him out and he has no idea. None at all. Typical, I suppose. Still, I want to tap him on the shoulder and be like, dude. But what do I know about secret looks and quiet longing? Been so long. I’d be no help to a guy like him. Probably even come across as creepy. So whatever, I’ll just watch, as usual.
My final day trips in Mexico were totally last minute. Planned the night before and motivated more by proximity to espresso bars than anything. First, the Basilica of Guadalupe where in the 1500s the now iconic Mexican image of the Virgin Mary stepping on snakes was miraculously transferred onto a sheet holding a bundle of flowers; second, The National Museum of Anthropology where the collection is so vast that even a guy like me who loves history and artifacts grew tired of ancient stone heads and obsidian spearheads. Both trips proved to be worth the overcrowded and musty Metro, but I’m not feeling up to dedicating a blog post to either. So I’m posting photos instead.
So yeah, air travel isn’t what it was when I was a kid. I no longer get that buzz during takeoff or care much about the drink service or snacks. I usually fall asleep on the tarmac and wake up after cruising at attitude. I just want to get to the place so I can get on with my life.
The woman just finished her book. Closed it and tucked the book mark (a business card?) into her wallet. Dude finally looked up and gave her a smile. She smiled back. Go talk to her, I want to say, go say something. Life’s too short to sit around and wait for stuff to happen.
My sugar high is waning, I’m nodding off again. I’ll take it as a sign that time is passing after all, which is a good thing. Still, off I go to do some more laps. Slowly getting home again. Ever so doggone slowly.