Over the course of my life I've sat waiting in many airport gates for flights to many states and countries, but this time my arms and hands hang free and that makes me feel awkward. I hadn't realized that carry on luggage is like a purposeful wubbie. It follows behind me, it prevents creepy people from sitting next to me, and it helps to maintain a comfortable distance between me and those who have no personal space.
Being an attractive single lady traveling alone I'm usually open to a little, or a lot, of flirting with my male counterparts. But I'm having trouble feeling amorous, or for that matter even the least bit feminine. Instead I adopt an I'm-about-some-serious-shit attitude to shield myself when a man looks around, or through me to get a better look at someone else.
I'm usually dressed to impress when I travel. But fashion weighs too much, so I wear one of the two sets of clothing I'll walk in. I chose men's hiking clothing because they are more practical, which also means they are more comfortable. I did try ladies trekking clothes, but the manufacturers sacrificed practicality for style. The minutes tick by slowly while I'm on display in men's khaki shirt, men's army green utility pants, and men's hightop hiking boots, with a black fanny-pack and canvas organizer around my waist. I look at a waiting passenger, she turns away avoiding eye contact, then whispers something to the man sitting next to her. I can imagine her saying, "She looks as if she's going to redeem a gender-reassignment-surgery and safari special.
Feeling like a mis-understood traveler, I get up to buy a four dollar cup of designer coffee to show my membership in the club. I return to the gate, locate an electrical outlet on a pillar in a far corner to charge my phone. I lay on the floor with my legs up on a chair, practicing a version of a position my yoga teacher gave me to reduce the swelling in my feet and legs after a long day of walking. I didn't need it now, but I just didn't know what to do with myself.
I'm relieved by the announcement that they would soon begin the boarding process. Now I have something to do--I can get in line. I scan the waiting passengers looking for a member of my tribe. I would know them because they would be dressed like me--but there's no one. I fidget with my clothing, my waist pack, and I remove the guidebook and thumb through it while I wait. Then I come to realize that my boarding group has already been called and they were boarding the next group. I fumbled for my boarding pass and moved through the hovering passengers. I was happy to be moving, it soothed my excitement.
I found my seat under the watchful eyes of previously seated passengers. My seat-mate, a neatly dressed businessman, looked puzzled probably because I carried nothing on. He managed to give me a half smile. I got belted in and began to make small talk in hopes to ease his mind. I find that people are made comfortable by information. He nods as he connects the dots. Then as the plane revs to take off, he begins to tell me the what, where and whys of his travel. My mind drifts and when it returns he's still talking about something important to him. I'm usually more attentive to people that I share such close quarters with for several hours, but this time I'm distracted, since my own whys remain unanswered.