It was way too early in the morning for a flight, but gods know it seemed every cheap flight was in the dark of morning or the foggy danger of night, so here I was 5am in an airport in Berlin bound for Moscow. I had passed through check in and security with a minimum of fuss, was allowed to make jokes with the staff who had me take off my shoes and every thing out of my pockets, and they had actually laughed at my jokes.
I was glad to pass into the relative quiet of the waiting room, while other passengers took advantage of the non-tax shops on this said of customs. I rarely carried much onboard baggage: a small ruck sack of my music and a book. Most times I would sit and listen before boarding, only moved by other passengers getting up with tickets in hand, but this time I feel a strange melancholy. I was irritated by the melancholy.
I never had any thought of sadness when I moved from one place to another. I always had an excitement to see something new. But this time I sat in the small area which would contain approximately 150 passengers looking out of the windows watching men scurry back and forth beneath the terror of the wings of aircraft and I felt deflated.
I had nearly fallen asleep when, in the corner of my eye, something pushed the “sameness” from my eye, the patterns all people make at all airports around the world. In the nearby seating area designated for passengers taking a flight from Berlin to Zurich, a person, female, sat in the chairs closest to the ramp for boarding, eyes closed with tears streaming down her face.
German? Not German? Her reddish brown hair, illuminated beneath a harsh light, was cropped in a popular style, but it seemed odd against her skin, a smooth brown, like caramel, like coffee stirred with cream. As I watched, she seemed to be moved by another thought or circumstance, musical accompaniment, I knew not, but fresh tears, copious rose in her eyes, flowed down her peach curved cheeeks.
It was none of my business, nothing in the least, but I felt an enormous desire to hold her, to ask her why she was so distraught, to wipe away her tears. I felt tears start in my own eyes, so empathetic, so strongly I felt her emotion. I looked around the hanger. People continued in their tasks, their laughter, their search for mints within their bags, and I marveled aloud how they could not feel the poignancy of her.
“Boarding for flight 2276 will commence momentarily. Please…” I stopped listening. I asked myself why was I so occupied with this woman. I tried to make up nasty stories in my mind as to why she might be upset but it was useless. I hung my head. I felt a strange desire to comfort her, but I was could do nothing, would do nothing. I looked at her a long moment, as she surrepitiously wiped her nose, but she did so in a way that was private to her but was in no way trying to conceal to anyone what she was doing. She let the tears roll down her face unchecked.
With a suddenness that nearly made me swallow my tongue because I’d been staring, her eyes cut to mine. But the glance was not one of rebuke. Across the space of twenty steps, the space of seconds, from that one glance I craved to know what her voice sounded like, what she looked like when she smiled, the touch of her fingertips, the brush of her cheek against my chest, but a voice was calling overhead.
The woman rose without reluctance, shoulders lifted then fell in a long sigh. She cast her pack over a shoulder and started towards the attendant’s post checking tickets, but she turned one last time, eyes meeting mine. Dark eyes, long lashed, lips full carved as if with the edge of a knife.
Last call, Berlin flight to Zurich. What would she do in Zurich I thought? Again, none of my business, yet somehow I wished I could have been on that small seater, with formerly icy wings now unencrusted, soon to be slashing through the air, instead of my longer flight to Moscow. Ah, Fate, why couldn’t you give us even a small clue of what the future held?
2 thoughts on “Berlin to Zurich: Memories at an airport”
Powerfully written! This really pulled me in. Strange how we feel desperate to make connections with others, while remaining reluctant at the same time.
That was an unusual incident for me. Since it was the airport and I wasn’t sure of nationality, I did not talk to her or introduce myself. Ordinarily in Berlin or Germany in general, I have no hesitation to try to help anyone if I can, and will talk and interact with anyone, seriously or casually. It was quite curious… but then, “it is as it is”.
Comments are closed.