At the Terminal by Rebecca Galvin

The airport is an interesting place. It’s a place of endings, new beginnings, scary firsts, and exciting adventures. I think I need to stop buying tickets just to watch the people get on and off the panes. I’d love to know how it would feel to go somewhere new, somewhere fresh, somewhere different. The city is feeling smaller by the minute and I am not sure how much longer I can do it. I wonder what they think when they pass me by, if they think anything at all.

“Good morning Amanda! How are the kiddo’s this morning?” I’ve worked with Amanda for five going on six years now and she has been here three times longer than I have. Working at the preschool is a bittersweet monotony of reading time, lunch, naptime, snack, playtime, and dismissal. “Pretty good this morning, although Karissa has already hit Jenny twice, I think we are going to have to have a sit down talk with Mrs. Calvinton” She quipped. I walked past her into the throng of the happy smiling faces, and grabby hands. The bright yellow walls give the place a feeling of cheer and joy, the blue carpet with large multicolored polka dots give something for the kids to jump from dot to dot, as well as giving them places to sit during circle time. These kids are all that get me through the week sometimes and even then it’s a struggle. Olivia with her learning her letters, Liam and his struggle to tie his shoes, while in the grand scheme of things those tasks don’t seem like much, to the children they are like insurmountable tasks that will never be achieved, and if I have even a small part in seeing their faces light up with joy when they get that then I feel like I have done my job well.

We survive through till naptime, a welcome break in the day. The kids have tired themselves out on the playground and are all snuggled up on their nap pads and settled in for a good hour to two hour nap. I get the privilege of sitting in the rocking chair while the other teachers go and eat lunch in the break room. Some may say that that is not a privilege but it’s my favorite time of day. With only quiet sleep noises to keep me company I work to figure out how to open a bag of chips without waking any of the kids. I can see through the window into the break room where all of the teachers sit at the round tables and laugh loudly and without restraint. I wish I could do that. I wish that I could laugh without feeling self conscious of the gap in my teeth, I wish I could keel over with laughter without feeling the need to hind my middle. I wish I could let my voice ring out without hearing the faded voiced of the past reminding me that I’m too loud and too much for most people.

I stop myself from staring too much as the teachers begin to notice me and give me polite and yet slightly sad smiles from through the glass, just another barrier from feeling truly known. I finish up with my lunch and put it away just in time for Delilah to crack one eye open at me and a small smile to start growing on her tired face. I turn to the small speaker we have and start the music up slowly to wake up the kids. I both love and hate disturbing their dreams as I can only hope they are flying with unicorns and swimming with mermaids. Their minds make up the most creative and imaginative little stories where they are always the hero, always the one that wins, always the one who defeats the dragon or the bad guy.

The rest of the day passes by with a blur of smiles and tears, laughter and crying, achievements and setbacks. I find myself once again in my apartment, through the blue door, onto the old red shag rug. I place my worn out coat onto one of the two dining room (if you could even call it that) chairs and go find a seat on the couch. I find a certain peace in the quiet again, but this time its different, its lonely, but not sad. As I start to settling into my quiet night alone my phone rings out with the obnoxious ringing that signals a call from only one person. “Hey Hannah, how ya doin’ its been a while since ive heard your voice”. It’s nice to hear from her, my best friend since preschool, now long distance best friend, she left to chase her dreams in Europe right after we graduated college. “OMG, Eliza, you won’t believe what I got to see today!” she is ecstatic, and she deserves that, she deserves good things, happy places, and new happy memories. “I finally was able to go on my trip to Iceland and see all the naturals wonders the place has to offer!” she gushed. “Oh Hannah, I’m so happy for you! It sounds like you are having the time of your life.” She responded and to be honest I’m not sure that I was able to catch half of the things that she told me. Whenever Hannah calls me it is a cacophony of excited phrases, wonder filled sentences, and often but not always, happy tears. We used to say that one day I would join her but, this is the life I chose I guess.  

Washing the dishes looking out on the complex, wishing I was looking out on the countryside, or maybe even at the ocean. As the mismatched dishes dry I fold my laundry (making sure to pick out the socks with the holes that have gotten too big) and make sure to prepare my lunch for the next day. I make a ham and cheese sandwich and pick out some chips from the cupboard. When I put the brown paper bag into the minifridge I turn around and look over my studio. My bed with the too small blankets that are overlapped to create one big mess of blankets to keep me warm. The dresser with the mismatched and often broken knobs. The curtains that are way to long but were so cheap and at the time felt like a luxury to have. The space seems to creep in on me the longer I stand there so I break the silence and walk over the creaky floors to the dresser and pull out a t-shirt from the drawer with the mermaid knob. Tucking myself into bed I smile remembering looking over the little children at naptime today and their small relaxed faces as they slept.

When I wake it feels like I’m caught in a time loop. Get up, get dressed, go out the door, go back in the door to get my forgotten lunch, and rush my way out to the car. When I arrive at the preschool little Karissa has already hit someone and Amanda really wants to call her mother and have a conversation about it but we both know that won’t happen and even if it did it won’t change the way her daughter is. I eat my lunch over the children and awake them gently with happy music. Driving myself home to the static of a broken radio, calling Hannah and repeating the daily monotony of getting myself ready for bed and prepared for the next day.

The next day is a break from the monotony of the Monday through Friday schedule. I have a whole two days to enjoy my life. And yet I find myself once again on my phone buying another plane ticket that I won’t sure. Chicago this time. I don’t really have the money for it but I find myself hitting purchase before I really acknowledge that it means I wont be able to drive myself to work once I run out of the tank of gas I already have.

Driving myself to the airport with my carryon luggage always seems to give me a reason to smile. Even if I know I won’t board the plane to seat 22A. I arrive at the airport and park in my spot, the back corner farthest from the airport and closest to the nearest light. Walking myself and my muted pink carryon luggage over the bumpy parking lot I am finally able to let out a deep breath and a small smile. “Good morning! What a beautiful day!” I greet the security officer scanning each passenger, to a chorus of looks from fellow travelers on my cheeriness. I Make my way to the terminal my hand going numb from the bumpiness of the bags wheels on the floor.

I finally get to my happy place, where anything is possible. Sitting at the terminal, hands in my lap, imagining all the places I could go.

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