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Being There This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   There is something about family vacations in general that make you think about things in a different way. Maybe it's being away from those you love and those who love you for so long. Instead, you are usually in another place where you want strangers to think you are wonderful, and wow, where the heck do you come from? So you try to distance yourself from the small group that is your family, and in most cases, would give the world for your happiness, but you don't know that. You examine yourself in those brightly lit store windows that are so clean, shiny and long that you can see all of yourself. Your eyes are kind of fuzzy, and seem farther apart than usual. Your waist is different than it should be, but you think you look pretty good. Then you remember what what's-his-face in Providence told you yesterday, and you wish you weren't in this airport.

You wish you were still in Providence, on the telephone, laughing and telling that person your family had decided to go somewhere else in this big crazy world. You told this person that you'd miss him, and to tell the English teacher that you'd hand in your project late. Then you and this person exchanged good-bye's and I love you's and hung up.

Now you are in this airport, wondering why you didn't put up a fight and stay right where you were a few hours ago.

This airport reminds you of something out of a depressing novel. Too many people cramped in small places, waiting for machines to control their immediate fates, not knowing if they'll ever see Aunt Suzy in Idaho or Cousin Harold in Detroit. The bathrooms smell like old air fresheners and cigarette smoke. The sinks are stained a yellowish red from rusty water being poured too many times. There are cracks filled with dirt on the sides of the stalls. Mirrors are spotted, but women brush their permed, colored long hair, and fasten it with brightly colored barrettes or extravagant elastics. Everyone is waiting on high-tech systems to be taken somewhere they have paid too much money for.

Airports are hell. Men with beer bellies doze quickly in bars over Miller Lites diluted with long-ago melted ice. Women with tired eyes schlep whiny children to Burger King with promises of cheap toys to make their babies happy. There ARE happy couples, laughing, nuzzling noses. You remember that person in Providence .... There are little girls in Pocahontas suits, babies with runny noses, stewardesses in too-tight uniforms, and bad-tempered teenagers.

There is the fat woman with a cheap paperback, and her husband who looks at, but doesn't pay attention to the television. There is the scared girl who clutches her backpack and walkman, and is listening to her mom's cautions about not speaking to strangers.

Then there is your own family - all but your guinea pig who was left with the neighbors upstairs. Your sister is asking for the toilet, but is being ignored because of the confusion with the luggage and getting on an earlier flight. Your brother is asleep in a hard plastic chair, a small boy among the seas of older people and orange plastic. Your father and mother are talking to a woman with artificial eyebrows, pink lips and long square fingernails. And what are you doing? Just waiting.

Finally, everything is straightened out, and your mother calls you. Let's go, she says. You and your family gather your carry-ons and walk to gate E-16 to get on your own high-tech machine to take you to your own fate somewhere far away from Providence. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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writer3499 said...
Aug. 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm
amazing!! I love the story...great job! 
 
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