In the side mirror the thin wisp of smoke curls, wanders under the orange parking lot light, curls back inside towards the dash as if lost, the long cigarette held by a pale hand as if not your own — a hand that is only a hand, leaning against an open window beyond the “Do Not Enter” sign that reads backwards next to the ticket booth. Norfolk, Virginia, an airport like all others, except no one is there arriving and departing, or waiting.
That’s tiring activity, just like driving, but not so much listening to the same song you came upon again today which you once found on a morning bus to Alcala de Henares. It sounds like another song about unrequited love, and you are on vacation but it doesn’t seem like one really. It seems like you are eighteen and it’s summer, one of those nights you stay up because you feel something comes out of you, but the world goes on.
The cars circle. The arrivers must have arrived. You couldn’t say you felt too much because that has never been your mistake when the time came to feel. The movie of your life goes on; you continue trying to remember not the present script but the previous ones. You think it’s more important to know the past, but the most monumental lines you’ve forgotten even ever existed.
“A person’s heart is like a deep well. Nobody knows what lies at the bottom. We can only imagine what there might be by contemplating the form of the things which, once in a while, come to the surface.”
Haruki Murakami, “Airplane”
Back on the other side of the ‘charco.’ I was surprised at how nice everyone is here, at the Miami airport. Everytime I arrive I feel the embrace of home like a wave — people who talk like me, who talk to me, who don’t look at me strange, who don’t care about observing the things I do. Comfort in ordering things, buying things, making small talk — finally the way I speak isn’t strange, or foreign, or plagued with errors.
Airplane rides, like they always are — long, drowsy, filled with neck and leg pains, fears of turbulance, views of the world above weather level. A sky filled with cloud castles. Most of the time, you sleep, if lucky. Sometimes you make small talk with your partner, you read, you sleep some more. I don’t know what it is about motion that makes sleep so inevitable. Sometimes you think random thoughts. Or rather they come to you, and you don’t think twice about the memories surfacing, rising to your present mind. You don’t try to remember more or connect them to adjacent memories or give any kind of significance to them. Even though, one day, they may be gone.
Before landing we were served pizza from Chicago’s UNO pizzeria, the deep dish, thick crust kind. And I was thinking about how once there used to be an UNO’s on South Street, right near where the Artful Dodger’s is now. A cute, cozy place with good food. The first time I went there was with Dimitry. I think we might have been looking for a place to eat and happened upon it. We were seated at a small table at the window. I had brought my copy of Interview with the Vampire to lend to him, and we made the moment into a dramatic event. The book was lain on the table, salted over, and passed slowly as we sang the Olympics theme song (it was the only important-sounding melody that had occurred to us then) and we giggled uncontrollably.
The second memory I have of UNO’s is when me and Shane went once (I think this was my first year of college). We had met near City Hall in the pouring rain, and decided to slosh over to South Street. We shared one umbrella (his, I never am prepared for rain) between the two of us, so we each had one side of us soaking wet by the time we arrived. I don’t remember much else — it’s interesting the details that stick and the ones that don’t. And if the other person who shared the same experience doesn’t remember, either, then the details are lost in the well of the heart. They’re there, somewhere, but they won’t surface back up anytime soon.