Thursday, May 27, 2010


I hate airports. They make me feel helpless and thoroughly deaf.
You may not think so, but it's quite easy to forget one's handicaps in the normal routine of things.  The closed captioning is always set on the TV, J. knows not to talk to me when I have wet hair, my work colleagues have learned that my left side is my "good" side, and we tend to avoid avoid noisy places like bars, concerts, etc. (where all I ever do is sit/stand around and get lost in my thoughts...which isn't so bad, now that I think about it).  Once you settle into a groove, your actions become automatic, like breathing. 
Airports are not routine.  They are full of squawking intercoms, echoing corridors, and tiled floors that make the sound of rolling suitcases a special form of Chinese water torture.  Every specimen of the human race is dashing to and fro, intent on getting to whatever place they're going, and the sounds they make coalesce into an incoherent sea of mutterings and moanings. 
My hearing aid is powerful and expensive, but it can't slice through such a slog of chaos.  Fully aware of this, I make sure to keep in touch with the travel agents in case of any changes to my flight.  Sometimes they have me sit in the handicap seat, the color of a fire hydrant, where people look at me curiously, wondering what handicap I have, being neither in a wheelchair nor relying on any apparatus that they can discern.  
I don't start to relax until the plane has taken off and I look out the window at the earth dropping away below, the airport shrinking until it becomes a child's toy on a blanket of green fields threaded with rivers.  Then the plane lands in Kentucky where I disembark and see J. standing at the base of the elevators, a familiar, loved face in the midst of strangers.  He greets me with a voice that I have carefully memorized all the years I have known him and takes my hand. My handicap falls away as he leads me home.

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