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The Cynical Traveler
The airport in Miami is buzzing. Thriving. People weave in and out around each other like a poorly sewn Christmas stocking. A ball of multi-colored yarn let loose to fall where it may. Looking at the swarm of people makes everything feel so surreal. I awoke this morning in Ontario... to six inches of snow. I boarded my plane at 6am just to get to my sister’s for a party. Ah, what we do for blood related family members.
At least I’m out of the snow.
I’m pulled back into reality when a small, short, bald-headed man slams his suitcase into me. He blatantly runs over my feet without a second glace. He’s talking on his cell phone. I shake my head and throw myself back into the constant motion of people rushing. It’s a rhythm. The thing about airports is everyone has somewhere to go. No matter who you are or where you are from, it is one thing that we all have in common. We all have a story of some kind to share. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Arabia or Idaho. All you have to do is ask someone, “Hey, where are you going?” or, “Hey, where are you from?” and you’ll get a thirty minute synopsis of their whale watching excursion in Alaska.
All of the stores that are sprinkled conveniently between the gates are promoting sales. There is at least one Duty Free Alcohol shop every three stores. I swear. The lines in those stores are always pretty full…
Candy, gum, magazines, and trail mix all line the window of the rest of the stores, as if the world doesn’t have enough already. We all need to be entertained so, here you go: a glossy paged booklet of unattainable perfection. Read it, enjoy.
The coffee shops and cafés pipe a steam of cinnamony goodness into the air that wraps around peoples nostrils like ropes and pulls them in. There is basically an aura of caffeine surrounding every shop. I have never seen a coffee shop without a line, especially in an airport. It’s just something you do. It is like an unspoken ritual that all of us travelers have. Caffeine is our secret weapon. It’s what makes us smile when we see Aunt Mildred at the baggage claim waiting for us when we were expecting our brother Bobby to pick us up. It’s what keeps us going after a thirteen hour plane ride. It’s what makes our relatives say, “Wow, you look so…awake!” because our eyes are plastered open by a tall vanilla chai with a double shot of espresso.
The good thing about Miami is that the air has a spice to it. A crimson, flamingo dancer painted air that sends everyone breathing it into a zealous sensation. You want to be where you are. Even if your mom was to call you right now and be like, “Hey your house just burnt down and you need to come home,” you’d still be like, “Mm, no. I think I’m going to stay here in Miami. The air is too nice.” Seriously. The air in the airport is cool and humid at the same time. The sunshine pours in through the thick glass windows and gets mixed with the air conditioning machine that lines the floor. There are tons of people sitting on them eating, sleeping, reading, and talking in explicit foreign languages all at once. They all flock together like sheep near the cold air.
As I make my way down the escalator the ever constant Christmas music gets louder and heavier. Frank Sinatra croons “I’m walking in a winter wonderland,” out of the beige, circular speakers implanted in the ceiling. But I’m really not. Walking in a winter wonderland, that is. Because I’m in Miami. So technically I’m not. So shouldn’t that song be banned in Florida? At least southern Florida? Whatever.
I pick up my bags after waiting at least thirty minutes for them. They finally come out, on the little metal track that goes so slow I want to scream. Once you finally see your bag you have to wait another two minutes as you watch it dramatically approaching you at an excruciating pace.
My cell phone rings. “Hello?
“Jerry! You made it!” My sister screeches into my ear. I lower the volume on the side of my phone to 4 but then turn it back up again because there are too many people around me to hear anything.
“Yeah! I did. So…are you here? Or…?” I look around at the throngs of faces but see none that look like a tanner version of my sister.
“Um, That’s why I’m calling, actually. I got so side tracked with cleaning that I completely forgot that you were coming. Do you think you could get a cab? I’m so sorry Jerry, you know this isn’t like me…” Her voice is anxious and it trails off into silence.
“Yep, no problemo. I’ll see you soon.” I click my phone shut.
The backseat of the cab feels really comfortable when I finally sink into it. The driver is Mexican and speaking a hundred miles an hour, probably giving me his standard talk of all of the best places to eat and shop here, because that’s what most people want to hear about. But I don’t. So I just tune him out and roll down my window. A fresh, warm breeze fills my lungs. I feel like I am breathing the sun. As if its rays are painting the inside of my body with light. I smile. Welcome to Miami.