Throughout the thirteen hour plane ride to Taipei, I could not stop watching the woman in front of me. Between bouts of sleep and finding myself staring at the ceiling, I would notice faintly but strongly her presence in a plane full of people. Forty years old or sixty, it was difficult to gauge. Her high, gaunt cheekbones battled against full, tanned cheeks and her hair flecked with dove grey stranded elegantly through inky black. I never quite got a strong, clear look at her eyes or mouth, only glimpses through the space between the seat and the window as I sat behind.
It’s already been a month since I made my first trek to Phnom Penh and experienced this well-known yet no less easy twelve hour layover in the McDonald’s-less Incheon Airport in Korea. The last time I was here, only a mere hundred feet away from where I sit now as I finished another entry, I was crying my eyes out. It was after a long night of slamming Soju and Asahi with Yoshi and our new friend, Misato, hashing out all of our frustrations and navigating through feelings of our impending work trip. I had experienced a restless six hours in the airport hotel, I was feeling anxious and disoriented, not knowing what to expect as I went back to the country I had left so recently and simply exhausted physically and emotionally.
It had been almost two and a half years since I had last set eyes on the Seattle city lights, gleaming like a forest full of little animal eyes in an inky night. I sat bundled up, peering out the window as my plane landed onto Washington ground on December 20th, 2014. The air may have been what felt close to freezing, but it was as if I could feel my blood warm as soon as the wheels hit the tarmac.
“Let us weigh your baggage please.” “Would you like your luggage wrapped?” “May I see your flight details?” “EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME!”
There’s something both horrible and exciting when stepping foot into an airport. Between the hustle and bustle of people both milling around at a snail’s pace ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the country’s claim-to-fame airport store (Smoked salmon? Kilt wearing potatoes? Eiffel Tower key chains?) and others crashing into each other like waves against fat seals, the energy of an airport- whether it be a large or small- tends to have an effect on me emotionally, physically, and for those of us with extra care for vanity and comfort- my aesthetics.