"Good-bye son!" was the last thing I heard my parents say as the moving sidewalk pulled me away.
It was a brisk autumn day outside; however, the airport was stuffy, hot, and humid. I watched as my parents shrunk and disappeared into the airport crowd. Soon, even their teary eyed faces were sucked into the large mass of the crowd. Suddenly, I realized that I was alone. Strangely the feeling of joy, relief, and liberty that I thought would come into my immature mind was absent. Instead, the sudden loss of parents left a strange sour taste in my mouth.
In the midst of strange faces, I soon grew awkward standing there. Nervously, I pulled out my cheap Nokia phone and began scrolling through the menu; a nervous habit that I often did to occupy my hands. As I insecurely fingered my phone, the moving sidewalk suddenly came to an end. Not realizing that it did until it was too late, I clumsily stumbled. My arm flailed out and I desperately attempted to grab onto my wheel mounted travel bag, but it offered no support and I ended up falling flat on my face. As I regained my composure, I casually glanced around to see if anybody noticed by uncoordinated motor skills. Most of those around me did not take notice, their faces buried in their phones as I was seconds before I fell. However, I turned and saw a mother standing off to my side, quietly giggling, while trying to juggle several children. Face flushed, I retreated to the bathroom.
Upon entering the marble bathroom, I scurried over to the sink. As I bent over to set down the bag that I was carrying, a piece of paper fluttered out of the hood of my jacket. I gingerly picked it up off of the bathroom floor. Grasping the note with two fingers, I looked it over and recognized my mother's flowery handwriting. Forgetting that the note had been on the bathroom floor moments earlier, I held the not closer to my face to read the faint letters. It was a letter to me addressing me as if I was already safely on the plane. The note expressed my parents love toward me and on the back included a picture of my two parents, happily smiling next to me.
As I read my parent's note to me, I felt my cheeks grow wet. When I looked into the mirror, I found my eyes bloodshot, pure evidence that pointed to my grief (several minutes without my parents and my condition was already deteriorating). I flushed my eyes out with water as if I had spilt chemical on them, then checked once more in the mirror if my eyes had improved. After repeating this process several times, I took a deep breath to regain my composure and walked out of the bathroom.
The mother from before had moved on and I looked around to try to find her, but she had completely vanished. I continued down the long hallway. As I did, I passed a countless amount of small shops; each nestled into the walls of the airport terminal. Their luminescent signs were of no interest to me; the people in them caught my attention. I saw foreign tourists skimming through the beverage refrigerator, vacationing families fighting over a chocolate bar to buy, and businessmen skimming through magazines. One such business man stood out the most. He was clutching a briefcase and his tan jacket was slung over his shoulder. He stood in the shop, one hand in his pocket, slowly inspecting the magazine rack. He pulled out a couple "men's magazines", but as he walked toward the cashier he frowned and checked his watch. He pulled out his phone and turned it on and for a moment I saw a face flash across the screen. He then slowly walked back to the rack and replaced the magazine with a "Car and Driver".
This scene strangely drew in my attention. So much, that I didn't even realize that I had stopped to stare until a man bumped into me, his face flashing with colors from his phone. I quietly apologized, and the man returned a blank stare, then continued on.
Moving on myself, I continued walking. I soon reached the crossroads where the once broad hallway branched off into several narrower ones. Bewildered by the pandemonium of the circular, mall-like clearing, I lost my bearings and had to refer to the glowing directory conveniently placed in the center of the chamber. As I tried to find my current position on the map I heard a voice come from behind me.
"Can I help you with something son?" asked an unfamiliar voice. I whirled around to face the speaker, a stout TSA officer, who looked of Hispanic origin.
"Umm… no," I said dumbly, as I looked down at her, determined not to show my current weakness.
"Are you sure? You look a little lost," her false concern did not faze me.
Instead, I pulled out the wrinkled board-pass from my back pocket and pointed to the gate number. Then, to show her that I was fully competent to function on my own, I pointed to the gate on the map.
Satisfied with my abilities, the officer replied, "Okay, but if you need anything, you can always ask a uniformed TSA officer or airport staff for assistance, I'd hate to see an unattended minor get lost in this large airport, especially when I do sometimes," her last comment sounded genuine, so I returned a phony smile. She smiled back (did I see a trace of warmth?) and proceeded to walk away, her wide buttocks rising and falling with each step.
Caught off-guard from my encounter with the officer, I looked checked the gat number and position once more and made sure to make a mental note of its position. I continued on toward my gate, taking long strides, trying to hold my head high, and maintain a straight spine; however this was hard considering that I was carrying a heavy shoulder bag and pulling a rolling bag. As I walked down yet another hallway, I wondered how the TSA officer knew that I was a junior; at eleven years old and six feet tall, I didn't exactly look young.
Several minute later of walking, I finally reached my desired gate, flight 3334 to Los Angeles. I still had an hour left before my flight so I settled into a cushy, yet bacteria infected, airport seat. I carefully pulled out my phone once again and made myself look busy by scrolling through the menu once again. As I was doing this a family approached the gate and noisily sat down in the seat next to me. I returned my phone to its pocket in my jeans, and sat up straight, putting on my best "alert" face as possible. I looked into the distance and let my mind wander preparing for the hour of monotonous waiting for my flight.
I never did see that hour, because soon after my mind had completely left the airport terminal, I was pulled back to reality by a crowd of noisy females who came screaming down the hallway. The flashes of camera were accompanied by the thunder of voices; a storm had broken out in the airport. At its eye was a single celebrity, around her a cloud of screaming fans and paparazzi. As they passed, the Doppler Effect heightened the pitch on the adolescent girls who were already at a soprano, compelling me to cover me ears casually in an effort to spare my ear drums from bursting. However, as they passed, I was able to see the celebrity that was so sought after, her face was familiar, but no name came into my head. Then as quickly as the storm came, it passed, once again leaving me in the calm.
"I'm going to be in that crowd one day," said a voice from besides me. I turned to come in contact with a young girl, who looked only slightly older than myself, who was sitting next to me.
"Well, today's your lucky day," I said sarcastically, "if you hurry up you can catch the crowd and maybe see a glimpse of her.
"No, not in that crowd," the girl smiled, her teeth were pearl white, but crooked and uneven, "I am going to be a famous actress!" The girl proudly announced her intentions, but with a volume that was a slight shout, and in response what probably was her brother turned and urged her to quiet down. The girl blushed slightly, her complexion turning pink.
"You're really confident aren't you?" immediately regretting my mocking tone, I shrunk back waiting for a strike to the face, but instead I got a giggle.
"You're funny aren't you?" her voice rang with a cheerfulness that made me smile. the girl sat back in her seat and looked into the distance as if she was looked ahead in time itself. In profile her face's soft features made her look like a little girl, "My family is moving to Las Angeles so that my mom could become this big time fashion designer, but… you know what?" She paused, obviously waiting for a response, slow to realize this, it took several seconds before I replied "what?". I am going to be an actress!" she proudly announced, again slightly too loud again.
They say enthusiasm is contagious. I agree, because sitting there, listening to that girl talk about her plans to becoming an actress I began to get giddy for her myself! She talked and talked and kept talking and I realized that this girl had passion, she knew what she was going to leave in this world after she died, a legacy of being the best actress ever. I recognized her passion, a burning sensation that just took over everything that you did. As she talked I looked at her eyes and saw that fire dancing in them.
"Hello, are you listening?" the question made me surface from the large brown oceans that she called eyes. My jolt caused my neighbor to also jump a little and as she did a lock of her golden hair fell onto her face. She moved it back into place, "I said, 'My name is Chloë, what's your?'"
Still recovering from my daydream, I said stupidly, "Uhh… Ignatius Gim," seconds afterwards I regretted what came out from my mouth, I had promised my father not to give out any personal information to strangers.
"Cool name, Ignatius…" Chloë proceeded to say my name several more times as if to see how it felt on her tongue. "You know Ignatius; you're awfully quiet aren't you? I probably have bored you stiff with all my talking and you probably want to go back and listen to your music or something," she waited for a response.
I thought several moments and thought about my covenant with my father. I decided to end the conversation lest I give away my home address by accident, "Yeah you are talking too much," the words sounded better in my head.
Chloë, obviously wanting to talk more, but upon hearing that I didn't want her to continue, let out a brief, "Oh," pulled out her phone, and began to text feverishly. I sat back, stared at the hot dog shop down the hallway and didn't say another word. Later, feeling uncomfortable sitting next to Chloë, I got up and moved to another seat in the gate that faced away from her. After settling in, I glanced behind me to see Chloë starring intensely into her phone, locks of golden hair hanging from her head like Spanish moss. I turned back.
The next time I saw her was in a movie.