neon : minnesota

You reassure yourself that O'Hare will not screw you like last time, despite your sub-forty-minute connection. The land on the other side of your second flight is unknown to you, but you get on the plane anyway, recognizing that every airport, every flight, on this trip leaches a little of your individuality away.

No one is special in an airport. You walk down corridors that see hundreds of travelers per hour, all purposeful, all just as nameless and faceless as you. You are disconcerted to realize that within an hour, you will remember no faces and, in turn, will be just as forgotten. You wonder if you are the only person who becomes a little more transparent, a little less opaque, every time she goes through another airport.

Minneapolis is on time; you are just late getting there; your friend is waiting for you by baggage claim, and forgets his pen on the top of his car while putting your bags in it. The rolling noise it makes as it swan dives off the top of the car causes him to slam on the brakes, getting out in the middle of nonexistent traffic to retrieve it.

You look around, wondering where you are, feeling more than a little lost, wondering why in the world you scheduled a thirty-six hour layover in a city you don't know and people who either have never met you at all or have not seen you in nearly a decade.

Yet you are here, and she who can fly can certainly take a leap of faith every now and then. It's good for the soul, or so she's been told.

A cat, whom you later learn is Meriska, lets you hold her despite her usual objections. You finally meet the long-term wife of your host the following morning, along with their sick toddler that you almost as quickly say goodbye to. You head to a bastion of commercialism where you buy a Christmas trinket for your mother, and wonder if the sky will hold its rain at bay. The weathermen promise, but you are skeptical.

In the bookstore by the Ethiopian restaurant you buy a copy of a book to force yourself to return the borrowed copy to one of your Canadian friends. It kills the time and the nervousness before having lunch for the first time with a netfriend that is neither old nor new, but a category all his own.

He brings two of his children, and you recognize that you are using your camera as a shield to approach new people in a manner that is not personally frightening for you, and yet, you feel that you could put the camera down at any time. A five-year-old girl with limpid brown eyes and a bright red hat is nowhere near as terrifying as a room full of librarians, and her brother is even less frightening than she is.

You begin to suspect that perhaps you have not made a Giant Colossal Mistake after all when your friend:old and friend:not-quite-new begin swapping stories over doro wat.

The old friend knows you, and knows what to expect because you warned him earlier that morning; when you excuse yourself to 'get a to-go box for his wife' he knows full well you are paying the bill. When the friend:not-quite-new says you can't leave yet because the check hasn't come, you smile and teach him the phrase "check ninja."

On the way to the zoo, the conifers remind you of Seattle, which you miss and will see soon.


You wonder if you are the only person who becomes a little more transparent, a little less opaque, every time she goes through another airport.


Did you ever read JMS's comic/graphic novel Midnight Nation? If not, you might find it interesting - it's more or less created around that very concept.


Damnit, I wonder where our copy is.

Oooh, no.  This is just an idea I've kept to myself and never written down before now.  It's comforting to know I'm not the only person who has thought that.