Κυριακή, 8 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Blog no. 21: The airport shuffle

Dear travelers,

Whenever you're planning a trip what you have in mind is always what you'll pack before the trip and what you'll do during the trip; never what you're doing inbetween.
  You see, the airport shuffle as it's going to be known for the remaining of this blog, is the transitional period between the time you arrive at one airport and the time you leave from the airport of your destination. It can be somewhere between 2 hours to a whole day if you have a connecting flight with a long waiting period, and it's a time where you're practically a ghost. You don't have any responsibilities, you have nowhere else to be at so you just sort of linger, wandering around because nobody will look for you, for a few hours you are neither here nor there, for a while you just don't really exist. I've been in this situation many times and I actually enjoy it, as unconventional as that sounds. It's a time where I can do whatever I want without "wasting time" because that time is practically wasted already.
  It's endearing, really, sitting around at the airport and just watching people come and go, trying to figure what their destination is and what they're thinking about. What baggage do they bring along? What's their story? You just observe with keen eyes, trying to figure everyone out. You're so into it that you forget your own baggage, your own destination, you forget all about your story. Maybe that bearded dude is flying to England to propose to his girlfriend. Maybe that Asian-looking lady is flying to Germany for her job interview in a law firm practice. That couple is probably going over the Atlantic for their honeymoon in Cuba. That sad-looking middle aged guy might be visiting Italy for his father's funeral. That annoying group of kids might be playing in the junior international handball finals in Sweden. And while you're doing all this thinking you're invisible, so you can keep on doing your thing and nobody will even notice (unless what you're doing is bumping into people and calling them names and stuff).
  I've met a lot of interesting people in airport shuffles, I've fallen in love multiple times with beautiful strangers I never talked to, I've listened to songs on repeat so that my trip would have an official theme song. "We Believe" by Good Charlotte was the one when I was stranded in Mallorca for the whole night with no money and no food, "Sing about me I'm dying of thirst" by Kendrick Lamar was my jam when my flight was postponed for an hour in Stuttgart, "4 da squaw" by Isaiah Rashad was played a lot during my overnight stay in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam a few days ago and "Chasing cars" was the song that started it all, after my 5-day field trip in Salonica, 8 years ago.
  My favourite airport shuffle story though, is the one with Sofia from Chicago. So, one time I met this girl who was in my bus on the way to the airport with her friend, sitting right in front of me for the whole ride. She was really pretty, had this great smile and beautiful green eyes but I was listening to music, too shy, and too into "The Great Gatsby" that was in my hands to talk to her and her friend. After a while I took my headphones off to seem more approachable and she immediately asked me if I was enjoying the book, so I told her that it was great. She asked me if I got to the point of the huge party in Gatsby's house in which I replied that indeed I had, and she told me that was so wild. We talked for a while and she told me that her dad was from Chicago because I noticed she didn't have the traditional Greek accent when talking in English. When we arrived at the airport I was still a bit shaken because it's not something that happens often to me, a pretty girl talking me up is quite the rare occurrence, so - the idiot I am - I didn't continue the conversation. At that point she came close to me and grabbed me by the arm as if we were going on a date in some fancy restaurant. She leaned in and almost whispered in a very cute voice "My name is Sofia, and my friend is -" actually I don't remember her friend's name, silly me. "My name is Stelios, nice to meet you" I replied. We were both supposed to check in so I told her that I would check in my flight and we could meet somewhere afterward to continue the conversation. After what seemed like an eternity, Sofia wasn't at her check-in and I figured she was done before I was, so I started looking for her. I searched everywhere, walked every inch of the (admittedly not very big) airport but she was nowhere to be found, so I convinced myself that it was never gonna happen and, defeated as ever, I crawled through the security check and went on to my gate to painfully wait for my plane to depart. A few minutes before my departure I see her and her friend boarding their plane; their gate was right next to mine and she was sitting right there for the whole time. When I finally found her it was too late, so I just called her name out and waved her goodbye.
 Even though the story doesn't have a happy ending it's something I will remember it for a long time (and if I meet with Sofia again by an incredible amount of luck, it'll be a love story to write home about). Not every story has a happy ending unfortunately, but the ones in airports have a definitive beginning and end. The whole "it's not the destination, it's the journey" thing is amazingly true, although that shouldn't take away from the fun you'll have at your actual destination. Here's the thing though, you just know that whatever happens in an airport stays there and, you see, being in an airport shuffle is kinda like being in a vacuum; everything that happens is isolated from the whole world, and much like everything else around you, it just sort of lingers.

Your friendly airport-shuffler,
Stelios Zesiades.

P.S. Don't be afraid to travel solo, you might just make a memory or two.
  

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