AIRPORT DINER

BY MADISON DENT

“I want to be somewhere different.” That’s what I keep repeating to myself as I sit, waiting for my plane. Everything in the airport moves so fast. There is no present in airports, only next. Next stops, next exits, next people we will become. It’s all blurred suitcases and magazines. It’s all overpriced snacks and people trying to leave on time. As if anything in life ever happens on time. I know that now.

Most of my life decisions have been a at the mercy of timing. I’m beginning to wonder when is a good time to finally live.

I didn’t expect to be going home so soon. I thought I would stay, fall in love, maybe start a life here. In my mind, I had been planning this trip for ages. But the moment I touched down I knew a different life was waiting for me. I don’t know when to start telling people that, so I’ve kept it to myself. That doesn’t make the truth any less real.

I’m ravenous by the time I get pass TSA, so I rush into the first airport restaurant I can find. It’s an overflowing room of people, surprising, considering how early it is. None of us will be here long. We were all temporary. There are equal amounts of comfort and wistfulness in that. 

The coffee is burnt. The room smells like toast and a warm butter. The eggs are cold, the tea is bitter, and the frozen potatoes are the only item on the menu worth ordering. Everything makes me feel tired. It is too early to call it morning, but based on all the people that are awake, bustling around, you can’t really call it nighttime. We are somewhere in between. I guess I’m somewhere in between too. In between my life and my dream. In between what I thought I needed and what I always wanted. In between the broken part of me and the part that’s healing.

As I sit in this confusing place, I notice the people. People coming and people going. None of them staying longer than necessary. Everyone has a story but no one ever has time to tell it. No matter what has prompted us to be here, we have all ended up doing the same thing. Waiting. 

The world moves so quickly around me. But sitting here, right now, contemplating my next moves, I have all time I could ask for.

It’s still dark outside, but we all know the sun will come up soon. In a matter of hours, grey and purple hues will be painted like watercolors across the Tennessee sky, signifying the dawn of a new day. It will be followed by the cold shrouded glow of a February sun. But not yet. 

I listen closely, above all the noise I can hear music. The radio is playing familiar sounds, pieces of my childhood memories. It reminds me of a different time. It reminds me of being happy. So, I decide, in this airport diner, to be as happy as possible.

We were losing the night chill in the air. Everything seems so final and distant.  I love the city, it feels like a home. Just not my home. Not right now. 

I wonder if I will ever make it back here one day. It is too soon to know the details of my future plans. But in this airport diner, in early February, completely exhausted, I see a part of myself I haven’t seen in a while. And despite all obstacles, I let myself hope

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