Midway Flashback

In the middle of a 3 hour layover at Midway Airport.  I'm sitting in a sandwich shop called Potbelly.  There's a guy playing guitar and singing.  He does a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Nivana.  Very good at his covers.  He looks like my first "boyfriend" in San Francisco, a street artist at Fisherman's Wharf, an occupation I found endlessly exotic.  I have a coveted table next to an electrical outlet.  I feel like airport royalty.  I got hardly any sleep last night, but the plane wasn't totally full and I got a whole row to myself.  I lay across all 3 seats, covered in the down coat I brought to battle the mild Midwestern winter, and I slept most of the way.  Unconsciousness makes things go by so quickly!

I hadn't realized I was flying into Midway, and it's a bit intense, as I used to fly here often to visit my mother, Midway being much closer to Indiana than O'Hare.  This is the airport I flew into when I would wonder if our visit would be a good one, if that visit would be our last good visit, meaning she would be able to leave the house, meaning we could have fun lunches and trips to Carson's to buy clothes.  She wouldn't buy clothes on her own; only when I visited.  She'd lost so much weight she needed clothes, and shopping is one thing I'm really good at.  I flew here when I went to the hospital to watch her die.  I flew into here when I had to come back to Indiana to open an estate checking account.  Because of the Patriot Act, you can't open a checking account long distance.  Did you know that?  I didn't.

The first thing I did after deplaning was to look for Nuts on Clark and buy some caramel corn.  One time I flew back to Oakland on Thanksgiving, and Kevin picked me up and we went straight to a potluck.  I bought a big bag of caramel corn for my contribution.  It was a hit.  Nuts on Clark makes good caramel corn.  Then I bought a beverage and grabbed this spot so I could listen to the excellent singer who looks like my old butch boyfriend.  I'm in a great spot to drink in the people.  Many of them are from the Southside because Midway's so close; it's not as sophisticated an airport as O'Hare.  I recognize these people—it's like I share their  energetic DNA.  They look so different than California people, in a way that's far beyond fashion.  I see my mother in all these stern, fleshy, angular faces.  There's a seriousness to these people, even though I know behind that they all have wicked senses of humor that can shock Californians.  And even though they seem unapproachable, there's a generosity and loyalty there.  There's a sense of life is hard and don't fuck with me.  When I see someone walking by with a softness to them, I know they're not from here.  No matter how hard I try to be soft, I'm always stern.  But it's not just me, I want to declare to the world.  This energy isn't as boisterous, as, say New Jersey energy.  There's a covertness, a condensation, like the energy is roiling beneath the surface.  It's all contained now in the zombielike dreariness of airport life, but you can tell—given provocation it's eager to explode.  Like when my sleeping cat Sylvia notices a fly and she springs to life, bloodlust in her eyes, crying out, which always seems so counterproductive, like isn't the fly going to hear her.

So I guess you could say I'm missing my mother, but I'm also missing me, the undiluted harsh Midwestern me before she got complicated by other worlds, other influences.


peN said...

So funny to read this @ O'Hare Airport which my. Pop said was named after an Irish rabbit. Growing up here I cd relate to yr post. The cold winters & hot hot humid summers may have had something to do w/ that hardrness, but the humor is my humor & I get the feeling people in Seattle, where I've lived since 1988 wd shit their pants at some of the thing I say. Either that, or envy the freedom that joking abt ANYTHING implies. Nice work Dodie. Travel safe & next time in Chitown go see The Bean.

chume said...

I go for Nuts on Clark all the time in Ypsilanti! Thanks for an amazing visit, Dodie; you left a wake of buzz and thrill on our campus.

ariana said...

god this is gorgeous. so accurate, stern, and humane. i want to write this way.