As I sit here in the florescent, mechanized, automized hub of all things coming and going, Tyler sleeps on a cold metal bench, the tips of his toes brushing against my legs. Waiting for the check-in desk to open, I plug in my headphones, put my mp3 player on "random" and sit back to enjoy my favorite airport activity: watching the sea of humanity float by. When the first song comes on I have to smile; by total chance, it's Brian Eno's ambient masterpiece, Music For Airports.
Sometimes it blows my mind that we're all here together, all of us travelers, in this one specific place for a single evening. Everyone is subject to the same circumstances—the waiting, the hauling luggage, the crowds, the scanning, etc, and yet everyone seems to approach it differently. Some are calm and patient, others irritated, some are condescending to the people working, and others zen-like in their peacefulness.
Here in Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, all is right in the world. I watch the business men all dressed in black with their high-tech rolling carts. I smile at the man who is rolling his girlfriend along as she sits cross-legged on one of the luggage carts, grinning from ear to ear. I admire the grace of the cleaning woman who wears her fiery persimmon lipstick and coordinating elbow-length orange rubber gloves with all the class and panache of Audrey Hepburn.
Then there's the young guy with the guitar, perhaps on an adventure that will define who he is as a person, and will change the course of his life. I see glimmers of my eighteen-year-old self in him, and then he is gone, out of my field of vision. Next comes a mama and her baby, traveling home perhaps; she snuggles her face into his brown, chubby cheeks, and he lights up the world with his smile.
I can't help but smile at the harsh musical juxtaposition. Though Bryan Adams is Canadian, the song is iconically American to me, and my thoughts instantly begin revolving around my home country, that enormous amalgamation of States from whence I came. The land of huge-ass cars, enormous cookies, and buffets the size of a city block. We have wide open spaces, long drives, diners, and ultimately, home to look forward to.
After Bryan Adams comes the Beatles long and winding road…
…and once more I am thrust into remembrances, on a sentimental journey down memory lane. Here Tyler is, laying next to me sleeping, head on his backpack, arm rested against the bike box we taped up this morning. I get a little teary thinking about how far we have come together, how much we have done, how hard we have worked. It is difficult to fathom the amount of life experience we've crammed into the last two years.
I am elated by our future and how much to look forward to. There is a piece of land out there somewhere, waiting to become our homestead. There are families to see, gardens to grow, food to cook, books to read, and certainly more travel before us in the years to come. I feel so, so very lucky.
Two hours later, it's time to check in. We wait in line, scooting our heavy bike boxes forward a little at a time. Arriving at the desk, we learn that Tyler's box is, unsurprisingly, too heavy. Having a hunch that this would happen, I cleverly packed our enormous, thin, woven zip-up bags (eminently useful presents from Guy and Freddie!) at the top of our carry-ons so they would be very easily accessible, despite Tyler's protestations that this would be unnecessary.
I proceed to mutter something to the tune of "I told you so," to which Tyler sheepishly mumbles something about "you were right…", thankful for my forethought and persistence.
The big bags are unearthed, the box's carefully taped sides are ripped open, and items from the latter are stuffed into the former. After several tries, we get the boxes sorted, and thus, the last of our traveling logistics are concluded. Like tentative, worried parents sending their children off for the first day of school, we watch our bikes disappear down the conveyor into a crowd of other boxes, and silently pray they'll make the journey home without issue.
Our load lightened significantly, feeling free with carry-on luggage only, we peacefully pass through the gauntlet of security, and we enter into the airport which shines and sparkles with shelves of perfumes and fancy liquor and woefully unimaginative gift ideas for the frequent traveler's family. We stop for a regrettable dinner of mediocre pizza, and then we head to our gate to await our new friend Jesse, who is worryingly still not here.
Eventually, Jesse does show up, and then it's time to board the plane. We chat jovially as we enter the tunnel-like jetway before the plane. We blush a bit as Jesse gushes about our trip to the people around us; meanwhile, he whistles a traditional Korean tune, and everyone heading home to Seoul cheers and applauds our new travel companion.
I'm exhausted, emotionally and mentally and physically drained, but I feel content to be here right now. Content to hold Tyler's hand and make our way to the airplane, ready for the adventures that lie ahead. For this is it! After more than two years on the road, we're on our way home.
…by way of a nine hour layover in Korea.