Monday, January 11, 2016

The Waiting Room: rainy thoughts from Frankfurt

“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was – I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I’d never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn’t know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds. I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost." 
 Jack Kerouac, On the Road 

Cold and rainy Frankfurt

I find international airport terminals an incredibly fascinating place. There is a strange energy of the unknown amidst all the security checks, bustling and rolling of carry-on luggage, running footsteps to catch a close connection, catching a quick shut-eye on a chair. It’s a place where all kinds of people converge for reasons I will never know, going to places I will probably never find out. Just a few hours ago I saw a pair of German brothers snickering at a man who was snoring up a storm in a quiet lounge. An Iranian woman tried to ask me something in broken english, but because I couldn’t understand the initial question, we somehow began discussing how Chinese and Iranian culture have similarities. I met an elderly Croatian lady who proudly told me about her son, who was a doctor in San Diego. International terminals are places where I can catch snapshots of people’s lives, but rarely have the opportunity to hear the whole story. And yet we are all strangers in a foreign land- trapped momentarily in a traveler’s limbo. We are not in our native country, nor have we arrived in our country of destination. I like to think that we are all in one big Waiting Room together.

It’s a rainy day in Frankfurt today and honestly it looks miserable. I’m glad to be inside bundled up in my hoodie and munching on leftover french fries. 3 hours until my 9-hour flight to Nairobi and I’m still feeling pretty stellar despite having come down with a nasty cold 2 days ago. In a desperate attempt to fight a resurrecting sore throat on my last flight, I downed a glass of cognac and discovered two things: I really like the taste of brandy, and it was a fabulous substitute for cough medicine. Win.

Despite having a thousand unknowns whizzing around my head right now, I’m actually feeling pretty zen about the near future. I have an incredible group of local friends there, a nice apartment to live in, and I figure that everything else will fall into place. At this point I’ve traveled and transitioned so much within 2 years that I’ve come to expect the anxiety that comes in the weeks before my departure. Traveling, I believe, takes a great amount of faith and calm surrender because so many things outside of your control will go wrong. Sometimes you arrive in a small town in Italy and realize that no one is around to call you a taxi in the middle of the night. Sometimes you get lost in Germany but no one speaks a lick of English and you speak even less German. Sometimes, you’re just downright stupid. But God had my back every time even in the messiest of situations, and so this time I know this trip will be no different. The risks and spontaneity of travel forces me to acknowledge God’s faithfulness every time.

I do wonder about how I might change when I come back from Nairobi; how Los Angeles may feel alien again; and what new lens this time I will be given to see the world through. For a while, my return from a spectacular summer in Italy meant that I had to wrestle with a new version of myself and a new perspective on the world. What I experienced in Cinemadamare set my following months on a course that I had not anticipated, and now I find myself zooming back out to a new adventure. Out of Los Angeles, out of the Waiting Room.

1 comment:

  1. You are such a writer, my little friend! I will follow you inthis new adventure. Take me with you through your writings! Alberto Vianello