It all starts somewhere after the driver leaves me at the curb, and the belt pushes my carry on through – the curve of the day shifts. I am out here alone. Again. “I am too widdle. I jus’ a widdle pony and don’t belong on a big airp’ane all alone, flying across the ocean to a country not my own.”
In the security line, a woman jumps in front of me. She has a Cartier watch and a navy-blue and white striped spencer jacket, white ballet slippers. Moneyed. I, apparently, am not worthy-to-wait-for; she does not meet my eyes. Head bolted upright, gaze pinned forward, she places her things in front of mine. Maybe I have disappeared, and I’m not even aware? Clearly, she does not see me, a shadow to be skirted.
It is all so dog-eat-dog: rushing past, stepping over, cutting off, even when walking around is an option. Humanity overflows; the stimulation jostling. In the mysterious way that details get lost while in transit, I lose a cell phone. I check all the places one might (bag, bin, ticket counter, bag again, other bag, ask agents, ask guards, call lost and found). It was there on one side of security and not on the other. I am unraveling on the inside, octopus arms juggling too many pieces parts. This is the concrete result.
BOS to CDG, as they say in airline speak, is my current, most frequent route. BOS to LHR was my last well-worn trek; BOS to JAX before that. When you travel for work, trips are a relationship like any other in your life – with rhythm and ritual, roles & repetition. Always go to the restroom after boarding, but before take-off, for instance. Or, compress purse and briefcase to one bag if at all possible. A good one, at least for women. Also, don’t ever give the family with a crying kid a dirty look. That could be, or might have been you, once. We are all kids before we are business travelers.
I can feel my anxiety rising. How will I be contacted in case of emergency? How will I know my son is okay, my mother, my husband? What about clients who have that number? My boss? How will I get a uber? Inside, my inner barbarian pounds on me – how could you be so careless – dismissing the real and, likely obvious truth, that the phone was stolen.
I want to cry and scream and extol that I cannot be out here without connection. It is too scary. But so what? The gate agent reassures me, after my last last-ditch effort, that I can get a new one in Paris. I smile: “There are so many other things happening in the world that are so much worse than my lost phone.” She smiles too, and we agree taking it easy is the only option. What are you going to do in this ever volatile, sneak-attack world?
Widdle world, you are too small to be out here on your own.
© Gabriella Strecker
Photo courtesy of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pony