February 19, 2019 § 4 Comments

Put seatback up. Switch off electronic devices. Stow items underneath the seat or in the overhead bins. Return my tray to its locked position. Put on shoes. Look out into fog. Feel whirring of landing gear. Bump down hard. Why do they say “touch” down? Watch flaps retract. Unlock buckle. Stand. Feel aching spine. Hoist rucksack onto back. Lift garish shopping bag, filled with small gifts from home. Deplane. Feel blood begin to circulate. Enter giant lobby. Scan strange faces. Hesitate. Angle over to cafe. Order coffee. Sit. Remove map. Find street. Enjoy the taste of coffee not born in an airplane’s galley. Finish. Rise. Shoulder things. Walk to curb. Brace from biting wind. Read bus destinations. Wait. Feel cold rise through shoe soles. Mount bus steps. Pay. Seize seat. Drop bag and pack. Let the weariness sink in. Stare at the fog, the stopped cars, the river, the bridge, at last the city. Listen to passengers. Grab things. Exit. Walk. Find the narrow alley. Walk more. Push open the door. Feel the warm rush of air. Hear muted conversations. Slide into the warm booth tattered from a hundred years. Look out the window. Await the waiter. Order eggs. Order coffee. Decline toast. Smile at this place, waiting for me, across the ocean and time. Smell the coffee. Listen to the clink of silver. Tap the shakers of pepper and salt atop the quivering yellow. Admire the waiter’s black vest and slacks and worn leather wallet about his waist. Taste the hot food. Swirl the coffee around. Swallow. Repeat. See the ray of sun crack the wall of fog. Drink. Chew. Swallow. Reach into my bag. Grab the small yellow paperback. Flip to the bookmark, a torn edge of napkin. Read. Sink deeper into the chair. Lose time. Come to myself. Put away the book. Re-enter the alley. Call the landlord. Confirm the small room is ready. Study the bus ticket schedule. Anticipate the bus, which will save me from the cold. Eye greedily its arrival. Mount. Enter. Sit. Sift through the languages the other sitters are speaking. Re-wrap my scarf as the bus stops. Hoist my things. Clamber down and onto the street. Pull my hat down low, head bent against the blast.



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