Written on a couch, in an airport, at 1AM

I stared at this for a long time. Not particularly staring at the airplane. Just opened my eyes at look straight ahead.

I was laying on a small chair at Sea-Tac. They designed this chair in a really funny way: It was a couch, but it was deceiving. You couldn’t lay on it, except if you were my size. They divided it into smaller sections, but those sections were connected through smaller portion of the couch. If that made any sense to you :). Then you could squeeze in, but still, not as comfortable.

I was laying there, staring at whatever within my eye sight. I wasn’t thinking about anything, which was rare because there would always be something going on in my head. I just focused on my breath. Actually, not exactly, because I wasn’t really thinking such things as inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. I was focusing on the fact that I was alive, although exhausted. But alive. My feet stink after several days wearing the same boots and walking long distance, and from the pair of socks I wore today and walked for continuously 5 miles in. I knew I smelled bad because on the plane the woman sitting next to me asked me to not take my shoes of. She said she was sensitive to bad smell. I didn’t cry. In fact, I hadn’t cried in a really long time, but that hurt. For a moment I could really say I was comparing myself to her, comparing a girl backpacking with stinky feet to a lady using two iphones and having Wi-fi on the airplane and having someone to text to. She laughed. She texted. Then she laughed again. I tried my best to fall asleep. It turned out I was too tired to even close my eyes, so I stared ahead. A woman was sitting in front of me. She was blonde. And she was tall.

Back to the couch, I just stared at the ceiling, listening to life going on around me. The sound of people calling out to each other. The sound of baggages being pulled — their wheels rushing on the ground. I knew people were leaving. I knew someone would pick them up or they would drive home or they would take an uber. I knew I was staying here. I chose to stay here. To feel the deep sense of loneliness, of the world on the opposite side of the world where my parents and younger sister would stay up late, breaking the routine of the early birds, to pick me up, to drop me off, to waive me as I walked away from them, because I was “important” to them.

Thus, I kept laying on this funny couch, thinking about nothing until I was aware that I was not thinking. Feeling my heart beat against the thickness of this couch, feeling deeply alive, and exhausted.

Earlier today, I had my pepper sprayer taken away at a security checkpoint. I didn’t understand what kind of harm they could see in me, let alone questioning my self-defense tool. They were calling each other to look at my bag, none of them ever noticed its owner. Some of them I perceived as jerks. I looked at them, and my very first instinct was if I ever saw them outside of an airport security checkpoint, they might harm me. They might. I have to be careful. And they took away my pepper sprayer. A girl. Traveling alone. Had her pepper sprayer taken away by a bunch of male guards. Stupid. Disappointed. Yet too weak to say anything.

I did say something though. I said, “sorry, if you don’t think my pepper sprayer is safe to travel, you can take it. My flight is boarding now.”

The jerkiest of jerks in that group replied with a smirk, “Guess ya have to wait then.”

He was white.

But there was one other thing that still made me laugh. I actually went through security two times. The first time, I was caught because my LUSH face mask box was too large. I had to take it out. Then I met a group of ladies at the start of the checkpoint. They asked me about my problem and asked to see the box. I said if I checked this in, it would be $30, and the LUSH product was also around $30, I didn’t think it was worth it. Guess what they said? “$30 is nothing. You check this in, you’ll have your face mask, then you will be beautiful.” Hah!

I didn’t listen to them whatsoever. But it was something to remember. That in the midst of all these craziness, there’d still be some ladies chitchatting on their jobs and encourage me to spend $30 fee on top of $30 for face masks.

That was a great detour.

Actually lifted me up for a bit.

I was not ready to face any of tomorrow. I wanted to see one person, and that was it. I couldn’t bear any of the other. I couldn’t bear the fact that my schedule was not what I was planning for. Thinking about my presence as unappreciated broke my heart. And thus right now, right here, I wished this moment would last long. That I could just stare at the airplane, not having to move anywhere, but just waiting for the night to last.

And it wouldn’t last long.

I would change my socks, wash my face, and brush my teeth. I might change my clothes depending on how much energy I have. I might change it and get ready to hug anyone I would see at the house, or I could just excuse myself and would do that after a nice shower. Yes, I needed a nice shower.

I would lay down again and not listen to anything. I usually always have something on on the background, but today, perhaps the sound of silence will do it. The airport was empty now, with a couple of people I could spot out in the distance, with my glasses off. If I kept on laying with the posture I had been, maybe they would thought I was dead, or that I needed assistance. I needed no assistance. I just needed acknowledgment, and Vietnamese food. I needed to be home.

And I would soon be, when the night was over.

Published by Thi Le


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