There is a peace I find at stations amidst what may seem a chaotic coming and going of people. I began flying at such a young age, that stations were to me like a summer house: a home where one stays for a little while, dreaming about what the next move in our lives will be after our vacations are over. Or where one simply takes a break to read a book…
Due to my dad’s being an army officer, we moved to the south of Argentina when I was five. We used to travel back to where our relatives were living, at least three times per year. Sometimes, my dad would come home with “surprise tickets”, so I learned how to pack my bags in less than an hour efficiently, probably before having learned to tie up my sneakers.
Of course, it wasn’t “my clothes” what I was packing at age 5, but my two teddy bears’ and a few essentials; because – at the time of travelling – I’d feel as if I were an independent grown up who needed to take care of herself.
Here’s a funny story. I had a little blue bag that one of my grandmothers had given me, where I’d save among my things the tiniest of my teddy bears, so he could sleep during the flight; and a Sarah Kay’s launch box with my cup, a magnetic board game, paper and pencils. My eldest teddy bear would fly in my arms.
One time, I fell asleep at the airport as we were waiting for a delayed flight. So when my parents woke me up, we rushed to the plane! And I left behind my blue bag, with my baby sleeping inside … I only realized what I had done when the plane was about to take off and I lost it.
“Dad!! I left my “Coochie” in the chair!! Dad!!”
My hero didn’t think it twice and headed over to the see the Captain, the man who was about to take a mass of steal to the sky with people inside, and told him (most certainly)
“Captain, my daughter’s baby has been left behind at the airport; we need to stop the plane at get her bag.”
I waited for my dad to come out of the cabin as if I was waiting for the most tragic news a human being could hear. But then he got out with his thumbs up. Shortly after, the captain informed us that my bag had been found and that it would be sent to me on the next flight, over the freaking speaker.
And…, this is why I am bringing up this story: no one laughed. All the passengers were looking at me smiling. A stewardess came to tell me, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of him.” She was so gentle… and I felt so safe.
Things have changed a lot since then, but even so I don’t fear when I am at an airport. I still appreciate this whole world I belong to. Children crying for toys that are overpriced as “f”; men in suits having a drink; young couples complaining, “you didn’t bring it! I told you to pack it!”; a group of women chitchatting while looking at the brochures that hold their adventure… Someone reading a book…
I never do a thing while I am waiting for a flight. I just sit down and look… Sometimes I open my notebook and write down whatever comes to my mind; others I leave the page in blank. I simply cherish the noise, imagine the lives of all those characters performing to inspire me.
A station is the one place where there’s always a beginning of something ahead. It is the one place where we cannot rush but wait. Whether our destination is the most awesome safari, or a funeral, we cannot do anything but waiting …
So I am going to leave you with this: If you got the money, don’t collect things. Buy a ticket to a random place and collect memories instead. And when you are at the station, cherish that pause, that moment when – more than ever – there’s a clear before and after.
It might surprise you what you can find within you.