Gate C40

I grab my $5 lunch, a sesame bagel with garden veggie cream cheese and a bottle of water from Einstein Bros. and walk out onto the concourse. Five small chocolate chip cookies lie next to the exit. A sad waste, I think. Unless they were bad cookies. How much do bad cookies cost? Too much, undoubtedly. There is a bar cleverly masquerading as a steakhouse grill next door. I think, “A good stiff drink sounds nice,” and wonder why that has occurred to me more and more lately. I discard the thought as I usually do—too many calories, or knowing that the result will be disappointing—a lot like chocolate chip cookies. I make my way to the gate, and take a seat in a row of chairs that look out the windows directly onto the tarmac, mostly to avoid the gaze of an intensely cheerful guy in a middle row. With his long hair and full-on mustache, I instantly categorize him with Jagermeister and leftovers of an uncertain age: things best to be avoided. The tarmac is dead at first. A few planes are parked at jetways, but no people or moving vehicles are visible. I am reminded of The Langoliers, a short story by Stephen King. Always a comforting story to think of before a flight. Announcements play over the loudspeakers but I understand none of them. Periodically I glance at the counter to make sure my gate’s staff aren’t the ones making the announcements, even though I know it is way too early to board. Someone from another gate makes an announcement in a Kermit the Frog voice, which I do understand, but instantly forget because it has nothing to do with me. The voice might not be cool but I can’t be snide about it because I love Kermit. Boarding begins with the special people who need help or are encumbered with small children or hold first class tickets. I pick up my bagel garbage, arrange my belongings logistically and wander over to the outskirts of the gate area. I get a better look at the long-haired gentleman, whose hair is indeed well below his shoulders and more lustrous than mine has ever been. It is perfectly feathered back on the sides. If his ripped jeans were bell bottoms he would be straight from That 70’s Show. A woman shares McDonald’s French fries with her husband or aging boyfriend and I think, “I wonder what she’d do if I asked her for one?” The thought makes me smile and I realize I have no idea if my zone is boarding yet or not. I am between my mom, who I just visited for the week, and my husband and sons, who await me at my destination. I am here, in between, just me and my stream of consciousness. The loudspeaker calls for all zones to board. Time to go home.

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