Writing in an airport isn’t as romantic as I pictured it. I’ve been in airports many times recently and the charm of flying itself sort of wore off some time ago, but just a day or two ago I pictured myself click-clicking away on my laptop aboard the airplane; perhaps in a well-fitting retro suit...perhaps everyone in a well-fitting retro suit. The stewardess in her orange and white funky uniform would offer me a strong coffee but with a simple raise of my hand she’d know that I was too engrossed in my writing. There’s no room on my tray table for distractions. This would only make the other passengers near me more interested in what I was writing, but they wouldn’t dare directly ask me, instead they’d whisper to each other possible theories of what publication I wrote for. Time? Esquire? Cat Fancy?
Instead of a retro suit I’m wearing an H&M plaid shirt I’ve had for years, an oversized knitted cap to hide my unwashed hair. On top of my hobo-chic ensemble the all-nighter I pulled last night: packing, cleaning, and finishing up last minute details of my Parisian home-life, has given me a glossy-eyed, sloth like appearance. The plane from Paris to London was too short to take a proper nap so instead I’d fight my body’s inclinations to pass out. I thought sitting by the window seat would help me sleep comfortably but instead my head would bob, succumbing to slumber but would instantly smack against the hard plastic wall jolting me awake. This little mid-air head banging session continued until I had a small plastic cup of orange juice to distract my body. Instead of wondering if I was a glamorous writer the two Indian gentlemen next to me might have wondered if I was an unstable hermit or a masochist.
If one is looking for the least Christmassy place in the world I’d add the international connections terminal of Heathrow airport to the list of suspects. Instead of a holiday spirit there is an air of incompetence still looming from the approximately 1,000 stranded passengers from last night. Every employee is playing the role of the Grinch in this play. As I type the only sign of Christmas décor is a woman waiting in one of many long lines decked out in a cheap sequined Santa Claus outfit that makes me think for of festive stripper routines rather than season’s greetings. The woman has now boarded a plan for Hong Kong. Ho Ho Hong Kong. It would be amazing if my Christmas eve was spent in truly festive areas because with the lack of sleep, multiple time changes and random naps I feel as if this day could end up being 72 hours long. Stepping into my terminal after the trip from Paris I was desperate to wake myself up and stretch my legs so I decided to do some light Christmas and layover entertainment shopping. I only have Euros so I justified picking up a few extra things so I could pay with my credit card. It’s been a rough 36 hours without a coca-cola so I grabbed that first, then some Cadbury Dark chocolate for my family, both of which were an attractive shade of dark red and black. I wasn’t hungry but perused the semi-refrigerated section of sandwiches; many featured strange British ingredients that seemed mildly unfit for consumption but I chose one of the more pricey ones because it was labled as a special “Christmas Sandwhich” choice and I won’t lie, it matched my other purchased really, really well. The woman at the checkout didn’t appreciate my color oriented shopping and the credit card machine “wasn’t down but is taking a bloody long time today for Christ’s sake!” Even near his Birthday Jesus gets no slack. After about 3 minutes a Heathrow typical line formed behind me; now everyone was wondering how bad the masochistic hobo’s credit is.
The fact that there was meat stuffing inside my sandwich could be seen as the red and green frosting on top of the strangest, saddest Christmas eve ever but I’m still a bit jolly. Besides the fact that I love meat and will eat anything with the word stuffing in it: I’ve got an 8 hour plane ride ahead of me and one more Tylenol PM, I’ll see all my family together again in a house with wireless internet, a stove AND a dryer, and it’s the first Christmas eve where I have all my presents to wrap at once. My excitement at the idea of having a present wrapping marathon in front of the TV or in my room listening to music on my external speakers has made me so giddy that some people in Paris have even told me I talk about an odd amount of time. I suppose the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” wasn’t entirely meant to apply to the act of wrapping presents but in the context of my life it may be the only application. Being away from my job at the store where wrapping can become a competitive art form and being in a situation where I’ve been buying presents since September has made me craving for a good clean wrap job borderline drug like. I’ll scramble into my room and press the scotch tape against my nose, roll around on the tubes of festive wrap and curl ribbon until my fingers are pink and puffy.
The last few emails from my mom have ended with “after this I’m gonna start backing cookies!!!!!!” so I’m sort of expecting to not come back to a home so much as large gingerbread house. I’m entirely okay with this as long as we still have wi-fi. Gumdrop wi-fi. There is so much and maybe too much I’ll miss from Paris but there were always things missing. It will be nice to be in a place where people know I can speak at least one proper language, am not homeless, can pay in more than one way at a grocery store and have enough credit to purchase the bittersweet chocolate that makes up my Gingerbread home.