I am rarely at my best at 3am, particularly not sober, solo and in my third country in 12 hours.
After the wide-eyed pain of the night before, followed by the day’s frantic run around to see a doctor on a deadline, all I wanted was a bed to break on.
As it was, the trip to Bangladesh felt a bit like an endurance test of surrealism for the sleep deprived. Life is always lived bright and brash in airports and when too many flick too fast before my eyes I’m left feeling nauseous, as if over indulged on the Turkish delight sample tray.
I like to wander through airports. I hike them, explore their uncharted corners, try out the chairs. I aim to chart their secrets but tend to end up befuddled, turned around, and bad-map baffled. It may be that I’m more of a Paddington than a Marco Polo despite what I like to think.
I dream of wifi, sniff perfumes till they make me sick, play peekaboo with toddlers, sample hand cream till I’m slimy and hope for a toilet I can sit on. It’s the simple things.
Airports always make me want to buy stuff. They somehow have me thinking I really will look better with $100 moisturiser, that I need 8 different creams for 10 inches of face, that the label justifies the mark up. Their logic is insidious.
Duty free is indoctrination with a big smile and fruity lip gloss, it tells me I will not wrinkle, will not die if I buy this, have this.
I resist, ask necessary questions like ‘do I need this?’ but still fret and fuss over my face in the magnified mirrors.
I ask myself what ideas this pip or ping of a till will sign me up and laugh at myself for catching cosmetic rage when it is so thoroughly out of fashion.
But I don’t much like this normal, that it is odd for me to resent the creeping consumer colonisation of my face. So I give a last longing look at all the beautiful bright bull shit and leave it behind.
Moustaches loom large at the gate. As a woman I am endangered species so I stand near families, keep my eyes down and invent husbands and fiancés on demand. My face does me no favours here.
Queues are definitely cultural but I’ve learned to be cut throat. The sweet smile is entirely deceptive so watch out.
Flying is like half a death. I fall in and out of dreams too deep to plumb, as the earth drops away like a heavy weight. Lifetimes pass to the trundle of the refreshment trolley and the engines soothing hum.
The sunrise is a fire on my face. A heat that pulls me back into life as the globe rolls into the light. The cloudless skies have the world laid out in miniature, a novelty under glass. Tin foil rivers flicker between fields of felt and I am in love with the beauty of it.
I think of all the angry ants that scurry and scrape and seek and worry unseen below, living their little lives.
I weigh up the importance of one line on the faces of one those creatures I can’t see and suddenly I’m not so worried about the quality of my cream or the smoothness of my skin.
Some of our worries are so very very small.