Airport lounges are funny places. Often hours are spent within them, thumb-twiddling the many many minutes away, reading a book, taking a nap, conversing with random strangers trying to sate the boredom nibbling away at your insides. Yet many of us long to sit in them. We dream of partaking of the comfort of that nomansland, neither officially present in a country or absent from it. That lounge replete with rows of seats stretching as far as the eye can be bothered to see, full of others like you resembling the boredom and anticipation that you yourself reflect.
Yet it is full of untold promises, that ubiquitous of non-spaces, full of new beginnings and misadventures to be had, even if only for a brief time. What is clear however, is that life will change.
The escarpment of presupposed life-patterns, normally adhered to will no longer take precedence. Adjustments will have to be made, consciously, physically, emotionally. Succinct, and akin to marriage this undertaking is epic in its proportions. A chance for some to rewrite history, and for others to recapture personal space and time; for others still, a chance to relinquish control and escape for good.
We know not where we go from that airport lounge, but we go willingly. With our few possessions, our bottle of water and a pocket full of sweet distractions, and all the hope in the world that the vista that awaits us in our new territory of arrival is not as alien as the one we anticipate, and that we don’t falter on our journey thenceforth through no fault of our own. That the Weather-Gods pay homage to our hopefulness, and that delays are but momentary pauses in the collection of boarding-cards alone.
Through our epic wait and our monumental boredom, the inexplicable urge to jump to our feet and run to our destination, if we could, via the boarding-gate of liberty is strong within us. Yet we reign it in, tap our feet some more, flick vigorously through the magazine or newspaper that we have already encountered and absorbed several times. We imagine what awaits us, ahead, once we set foot on solid ground, somewhere else so far away. We entertain notions of creature-hood ensconced in bars and eateries or perhaps the confines of a lover’s embrace. We sit by the pool in our imaginary loungers sipping a Marguerita, or a Mojito, or maybe having a well-earned beer in the hope of absorbing much needed sunlight and ambience fresh from the cultural tin.
Suddenly the moment comes, and everyone is standing to attention roused by the unintelligible crackle of the intercom and the muffled voice of the Gate-attendant. Adrenaline courses, relief floods, and nerves flutter erratically in the pit of your stomach. Stretching of stiff limbs and collecting of personal effects ready to move with progressive intent, progressively through the Gate and onward to new vistas that is. But life is never that simple, unintelligible and muffled-voice formulates a thought in your mind, having bypassed your hearing and entering your subconscious: “We will be ready to board in fifteen minutes, would you please have your boarding cards and passports ready for inspection by the gate-staff. We will be calling you forward by seat-row number, so unless..[mumble]…. please remain seated”. Panic and confusion sets in, stiffness of back is replaced with upright alertness. Heavy patting of pockets ensues, rummaging of bags, emptying and repacking of contents numerous times in search of those illusive documents so important for immediate travel. The lounge has erupted into activity and the now slightly less quiet murmuring of people as they prepare for exodus, everyone apparently in the same fervent panic collecting themselves, ready for that final push.
You breathe a sigh of relief as you find your documents, one slotted inside the other exactly where you had left them, in that safe zippered pocket of your carry-on luggage. You hadn’t thought to look there because usually it is redundant, only deep and wide enough for a long piece of card and a passport…
A deep breath is required, a treasured moment or two of quiet contemplation, and a stiff farewell to familiar ground as you await your turn to place one foot in front of the other and begin anew.