Ghosts around me. Caught in between, not really gone, not yet arrived. An airport terminal - hard to say which city or even which country. A duty free shop, a Starbucks, groups of Japanese guys sitting on the floor around pillars with power outlets, typing on their laptops, maybe blogging how the German is sitting there with her laptop, maybe blogging.
Ghosts caught in transit, trying to stay in touch with their loved ones, talking to their cellphones, checking their emails. Lost souls, staring at the CNN news, dragging their children around, munching pizza, sipping coffee, queuing at the restrooms. Another Japanese circling around, searching walls for an outlet to plug in the lifeline. A guy next to me, smoker’s smell, attempts to cough out his lung, every breath an instant message of rotten tissue. A bit more ghostlike is what I’d wish, and look for a different place. Make a detour through duty free and cover myself with perfumes that carry names like Miracle, Pleasure, Innocence.
Somebody opens an emergency exit door, the alarm shrieks. The ghosts sit stoically, continue to watch CNN, the oil price, the banking crisis, an advertisement for a frequent flyer program. A recording repeats endlessly the terminal will be checked for a possible fire. The alarm blends into the background noise, last calls, paging passengers with unpronounceable names, security advice: do not leave your baggage unattended at any time.
Eventually, the shrieking stops, a child starts crying. The lost souls hold on to imitations of permanence, paper cups, iPods, credit cards, a BlackBerry they sleep with in exchangeable hotel beds. I wonder about the ghost’s stories, is he married, does he cheat on his wife, is she happy? Will the little boy clinging to her leg in ten years try to completely ignore her? Is he going to a funeral, is he well prepared for the job interview, does she have cancer? How many lost souls are stuck in airports, trampled upon, disapproved by security because they leak out of tightly sealed plastic bags?
A ghost in transit is what I am too, no longer in the past and not yet in the future, caught between where I’ve been and where I want to go - if only I knew where that is. I have the urge to rebook and fly to elsewhere, some country with a long unprotected border, vanish and settle down in ghoststate. Run a hotel maybe where burned-out businesspeople can recover. Be a painter maybe, sell paintings of flowers and fish to dentists. Be an interior designer maybe, a writer, a teacher, maybe I should use the restroom before boarding.
Ten hours later, another airport, another city. Miracle, Pleasure and Innocence have faded away. Thank you for flying with us, make sure to take all your personal belongings. The smoker’s cough still among us. The BlackBerry welcomes me to Canada, emails have piled up: a traffic jam on the 401, a broken water pipe, a conference participant cancelled, a late notice, a Facebook message, and another forgotten referee report. If Toronto is your final destination we wish you a pleasant stay.
How global can a soul be before it gets lost?