It's raining and I am wearing all the wrong things. My sandals snap at my heels and kick up more water onto my sodden jeans. A scarf covers the top and back of my hair but the front drips into my eyes as I plod on with resolution. I am carrying a blue cloth bag that's mostly wet and a white plastic bag that drips water. I could have taken the train, but I already decided to walk and I don't like to change my mind.
I am carrying dinner, grilled zucchini in olive oil and thin spicy pepperoni and juicy marinated mushrooms. They were all out of bread by the time I got to the market but I am sure I can find some at home. There is lobster salad, too, sitting on ice inside an insulated bag that's about as wet as everything else in sight on the street. I think about being dry at home with dinner and a glass of wine and two warm furry bodies winding around my feet..
It's cold in the airport terminal as my clothing starts to dry on my body. I think about asking the girl next to me if she will watch my things while I go to get a coffee. I am on the verge of asking when I suddenly think, are you kidding me? You lost your driver's license at a concert a few weeks ago and still haven't replaced it, and now you're going to leave your passport and your phone in the hands of a stranger? I consider taking them with me and leaving just the bags, but in the end I pack up everything and leave my seat and the two outlets beneath it, and the loud group from Texas is moving toward them with greedy white phone chargers before I am fully standing.
I come back with my coffee and find a new seat and not five minutes later a man asks me to watch his things while he goes to check on his flight. I say sure and smile at the small irony. A few minutes after that a worried face crouches in front of me.
"Excuse me," he says. "I know I don't know you." I wait for the ", but."
"But did you just say you would watch that man's things?"
"Yes," I say. I see where this is going but I won't give him the satisfaction of sympathy.
He grimaces apologetically. "Do you know him?"
"No," I say. "I don't know him."
"I'm probably paranoid," he says, grimacing again. "But we're in an airport . . . "
I tell him I am only doing what I hope someone else would do for me. He says he understands and gets up with his things to sit somewhere out of range of the bomb he is sure will explode at any moment.
The first man comes back and I can't resist telling him he is on the unofficial Logan Airport Watchlist. He laughs at that and I offer him a pretzel. He says no thanks, he is going to meet some friends for happy hour in Phoenix and he can't wait to be out of this terrible weather. He is wearing sandals too but they look less soggy than mine. We talk about our travel plans. He asks what I do and I tell him I am a musician. This is only partly true but I almost never tell strangers the whole story. They don't care that I studied architecture and philosophy and Classics in school and now teach English and French to teenagers and Byzantine chant to adults. Instead I choose one of those variables, the most fitting, and leave the rest for another day. Today I am a music teacher and I just sang in a concert. He says his mother is a music teacher too and I wonder what other five things she does.
He leaves and I wait a few more hours and dry out and warm up and am really ready to go home. Takeoff is postponed twice and when we finally take our seats I am grateful. I order a gin and tonic and when the flight attendant doesn't charge me I feel smug and secure in my insider knowledge that free drinks follow delays. Then he returns with a machine and says that will be eight dollars and I fish my credit card out of my bag and think, maybe next time.
A woman two rows back behind me on the plane is talking to the girl next to her. The woman's voice is piercing, not loud but piercing and I can't ignore it. I shoot her a couple of dirty looks but she doesn't see them or doesn't care. I put in earplugs and that helps a little bit. I can still hear her. The tall flight attendant from Trinidad kneels to talk to the soccer coach in front of me. He is inches from my face and has a deep voice and long braids and he doesn't bother me at all. I like hearing his bass voice and I can also block it out but that woman behind me is awful.
I think, what a fun weekend and what a lousy trip home. Traveling is for people like Hemingway who can experience these things and turn them right around into poignant anecdotes and be none the worse for wear. I have fun trying those shoes on every so often but really, I'd rather be safe and warm somewhere than building character in this uncomfortable seat.