Jun 20, 2010

All-nighters in the airports

Back in Estonia - sleepy and confused by the sun that takes hours to set

As I had prepared well for a long lonely stay in the airport, it was only logical that I met by chance the Latvian girl Lasma already before the first check-in. We didn't have much chance to hang out after a first wee while during our year in Montpellier and here comes life, offering us the next great opportunity on a silver plate. We took the same sequence of planes home. This week-end sounds good from the start!

I decided against leaving my bags in the locker and going to discover the charms of Charleroi. Instead, I positioned myself between 4 huge rucksacks on a chair in front of the café, to sit back, relax and enjoy. And enjoy I did. 17 hours of overnight waiting as a concious choice can be very interesting.

As the planned entertainment, I was trying to get over and done with the 900g War & Peace that I have been reading for more than a year. I've been noting down the paragraphs I like and today I found this one: Pierre's madness simply meant that he didn't wait, as in days gone by, for people to show personal qualities, what he might call virtues, before loving them. With his heart overflowing with love he loved people for no reason at all, and then had no trouble discovering many a sound reason that made them worth loving.

Whilst the sky lights change from dark rainy gray to sunshine blue to sunset yellow to streetlight orange to clear blue sunrise and back to dark rainy gray, ...

... Chinese schoolgirls giggle over anime on my left and Japanese schoolboys snore away on my right;

... conversations in all kinds of languages swirl around me. I hear Estonian but choose not to react;

... a dude with a familiar accent (Polish?) walks to me and asks the results of the most recent football match - can't help you, sorry;

... children climb up and down their parents;

... a wrinkly gray-haired man strokes the knee of a girl seemingly 30 years younger than him. I find it strange and stare. The older woman sipping her beer next to them seems to think the same, or maybe she just follows the fireline starting from my eyes. She is even funnier to watch;

... the fat man guided by his belly wobbles past several times;

... a big guy with red hoody stops to read the title of my book and shrugs to say i'm impressed! to the universe in general, while I stand nearby, having another coffee and stretching my legs.

... at some point during the morning, surfers arrive. The one who's dragging his surfing board that is packed up in bubble wrap and carton, back and forth in the corridor, gets thirsty looks from us two girls who see it as the perfect bed.

Many people get a beer as their in-between flights drink. The most interesting specimens get more than a beer to fill up those long waiting hours. I take a note of a french-speaking monsieur - quite round-footed already - heartily shaking hands with two Brits. I forget about them all until 3 hours later the monsieur is escorted somewhere to the far right by rather amused policemen who give directions as they go: "Allez-y, on va prendre un petit café!". The Brits continue. I prefer coffee, especially when I'm alone, have to stay awake 13 more hours and can't go to toilet for another 7 hours without dragging all the 60 kilos of luggage with me.

I'm being people-watched too. Some of them seem to enjoy it as a good pastime just like me, some of them are more interested, some even get the fifth, seventh or eleventh look back. Some of them people-stare. A typical darker-toned sir walks past the 3rd or the 4th time, preying my eyes for the second look. To my relief, a teenage boy is always straggling behind him (younger brother? son?). I practice the real meaning of the phrase she wouldn't give him a second look, making every effort to put on my best bored-to-death impression.

One of the Japanese schoolboys takes a long time to plug his laptop into the socket behind my chair. I start wondering if he is reading the text on my screen and whether or not he would be offended by it, considering that the two of them seem to be speaking American English, could be anything between 19 and 35 years old and are probably not even remotely connected to Japan. The Chinese girls next to me turn out to be Korean CouchSurfers, but the drunken Brits are still not Estonians, even though they shout the name of this country far too many times.

4 more hours to go and I still don't feel like sleeping, neither am I bored. It is like a huge international party with all those young people nodding off in the corners, saying Hi! to each other and laughing together when someone farts really loud in their sleep.

One year ago I slept under those same benches, guarded by Latvian friends that I had made earlier in the airport bus. Seems a bit like a dèja vu and I'd be happy to do it again!

1 comment:

beth said...

such a great description of the airport waiting game (and very beautifully written too m'deary!)