I am sitting in Zurich’s airport. It’s a typical airport, with bright-lit passages lined by TV screens that blast news in a foreign language. Men, mostly men, dot the seats; laptops sprout from their thighs as modern extensions of our human form. Behind me is the ubiquitous coffee franchise. The plane to Madrid is delayed. Again.
Sara accompanied me to the airport. She stands with me in the check-in line. We are silent. It’s a comfortable silence. Our eyes drift around the room and, independently, land on a threesome with eighties outfits: the punk, fake blond hair, the fash-illegal multi-colored leather jacket, the tapered pants, the enormous chain and studded belt. We giggle. “When will the eighties die?”
Really, when will it die?
Is temporal-cross-dressing a new phenomenon? Did women in the 70’s dress in the flapper style of the 20’s? Did the men from the 30’s dress in the quixotic attire of the late 1800’s? Do you know? (These important fashion questions only apply to the trends in the Western world; I have no clue what the trends were in India, Iran or China. No clue. I suffer from Western hemisphere bias). If they did not, if they strictly adhered to the attire of their time, what does that say about our times? That we are tolerant…that anything goes? Or that we lack a true identity so we borrow from previous generations?
Boarding pass in hand, we walk away from the check-in counter. “Bueno Sara.” I turn to look at her, my eyes glistening, to meet her teary eyes. We laugh. “Me paso la vida diciendo adios”…I spend most of my life saying goodbye.
But that’s not fully true. In a few hours I’ll be hugging my mom and dad. I’ll get reacquainted with Matin and Elika…it’ll take a few tickles, a few swings in the air, a few “run, run, I am coming to get you” before I stop being a stranger to them, and I’ll be Nana again. My sister will be relieved that I am playing with them; she’ll sink into a chair grateful for a few seconds of peace. My parents will be happy that we are all under the same roof.
I woke up today thinking about what’s to come in PNG. I do that often these days. I have no idea. So I drift back to sleep. What I do know, is this mission with MSF has set off a chain reaction amongst my family and circle of friends. Afrothite's dad looked up PNG on the Internet. My parent’s friends in Madrid ask about its whereabouts. Lauren circled it on a Bon Voyage card, and I’d show it to anyone at the bar who’d ask me…“Where is that?”
That’s partly what we do. MSF, you and I. We set off chain reactions by our actions that increase our awareness of the world. With awareness comes change. It makes goodbyes tolerable.