the sound of the car zipping up the ramp towards departures, the larger than life birds thundering over me on a mission to venture to far off lands, while some arrive home easing their engines. i roll my temporary life, zipped into a couple boxes on wheels, through the automatic doors and onto the belt; the belt then relays it to the big bird who awaits my arrival. i have about three hours left until i take my seat. three hours of soaking in airport magic before the exhilarating journey.
first things first after check-in, a hot cup of coffee. with my vanilla latte in hand, i roam the airport before i settle down to write and read a bit. people walk in all directions, speaking languages from all over the world, some in suits and ties, jeans and t shirts, others in kimonos, sarees, salwar kameez, and kangas. as if the entire world were packed into this one airport. we’re all headed somewhere…
there is a CEO traveling to china for a business meeting that could take his company to the next level, a woman hoping to turn the lives around of little girls living in poverty struck calcutta by opening up a free school for them so they may study rather than work, a man traveling to syria to teach english in a war zone, a family traveling to africa to start a project that will deliver fresh water to rural villages. a daughter traveling to seattle to visit her father whom she hadn’t talked to in three years, a grandmother returning home to visit her new born granddaughter. a student arriving to begin film school where she is determined to transform her screenwriting dreams into reality.
but before we head to our respective destinations, who are we in that time spent at the airport…where we kill time by grabbing an overpriced magazine or book at the shop across gate 7A, aimlessly shop and wonder, and drink great coffee? who are we in those hours spent flying to our destination?
i’m tucked under my fleece blankets, protected from the icy winds outside. i slowly get out of bed, and put on my socks. the room looked bright, but it wasn’t the rays of the sun. i open the shades and brought my face close to the glass, as i feel the cold my eyes opened wide to allow the, what seems like an out of a movie kind of beauty enter my eyes; our entire neighborhood covered in the whitest untouched snow. it was christmas morning.
i ran downstairs yelling “mummi, papa it’s christmas!”. it was 6am, I was 5. i’ve been an early riser for as long as i can remember. my dad would peer over his morning paper to look at his watch, “very early, eh?” smile then pick me up with his long tree trunk arms and give me a squeeze before he cooked my favorite omelettes “papa’s omelettes” a term i still use, 26 years later. mom would look at me, and put her hands on her hips “do you have to go to work?go back to sleep” i’d shake my head stubbornly and go about my day.
i’ve always loved lights: string lights, high rise building lights, city lights, christmas lights, diwali lights. to me, they’re just like stars glistening in the light sky, a symbol of hope in darkness. so it’s a given that i’ve always loved christmas trees. we’d have a little green one with gold decorations in our home in toronto, complemented with gold string lights on our balcony and stair banisters.
christmas was a bit different on the west coast in oregon. cold still, but not to the extreme. rather than snow, i woke up to the wind howling and blowing the fat raindrops onto my window. after slipping into my socks, i knock on my brother’s door right across the hall “it’s Christmas, wake up!!” then i’d run down the stairs while i heard a “shut uuppp” from my big brother fading away. papa loved white christmas trees, and since then we’ve carried on the tradition. on christmas morning he’d be bundled up by the fireplace with our childhood doggo tuffy, and mom prepping the food or catching up on some paperwork. it was our one day, the most special day out of the entire year to come together and spend time as a family. whether that was catching up on movies, playing boardgames, baking christmas cupcakes, or just doing our own thing until dinner, mine was writing etc.
my dear writers, the holidays are the best time to write. if you’re like me then along with early mornings, gloomy cold weather also puts me in the mood. the lights, the weather, the hot coffee and soups creates this incomparable cozy ambiance. i call it the writer’s ambiance.
after my family went through rough patch, we stopped celebrating christmas after 2012. papa’s health was declining, and we moved around quite a bit. boy, do I regret that. something as simple as putting up a tree and some lights would’ve lightened up the mood, no matter what you’re going through. i traveled to india for a cousin’s wedding in december of 2019, and little did i know that was our last christmas with papa forever. this year is the first year we’re celebrating christmas again since 2012. i can’t help but think of all the celebrations i missed out on in those eight lost years, eight more christmases i could’ve had with papa, eight more times we could have put up his favorite white christmas tree and decorated it together. but, most importantly i spent that time with dad. we had each other and that’s all that mattered.
when we put up our decorations this year i mentally went back to the 5 year old me who shot out of bed every christmas at 6am to see the fresh powder engulfing my neighborhood in canada, the 15 year old me running down the stairs to see dad bundled up by the fireplace and tree in our home in oregon. the 22 year old me applying to jobs on christmas morning wishing i had put up some decorations that year. the 31 year old me putting up two stockings knowing that sometime in the future we’ll be adding another one, and another one for a growing family.
christmas growing up all seemed like a dream, we’re all really collecting scenes for the movie that plays in our head over and over again. when i think of what life was like with papa around, i think “was that even real???”. we mentally press the rewind button to reminisce and the nostalgia sets in. it almost feels like that was a different life time…
in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives pre-pandemic, when was the last time you stopped and looked up at the sky? the beautiful buildings? the trees? how long has it been since you spent a sunday cooking with mom, or pulled out those spanish books you’ve been antsy to get to but couldn’t because your commute to work eats up two additional hours of your day?
a very long time I bet.
as devastating as the impact of covid has had on our lives, I choose to see the glass as half full. yes, these are scary times. I lost my father in august 2019 to something similar to covid, valley fever, also an infection of the lungs. I wouldn’t want anyone to experience that level of pain.
think of how these unprecedented times have changed our lives…
spending time with a small group of people whom we feel the most safe with, cooking at home rather than eating out, having small intimate weddings and/or other gatherings with those who mean the most to us, spending that time you would be driving to and from work to catch up on some reading or doing an art project to help your mind relax.
from enjoying movies & shopping from the comfort and safety of our homes, to companies shifting permanently to remote work once they realized how much can be saved by cutting back on office space expenses, to families spending more time together with loved ones. or that much needed time to just relax, and not do anything with your freed up time except turning your mind on mute for a bit.
whatever it may be, take this as a blessing in disguise
pandemic life has truly changed our lives forever.
P.S. thank you to all of our frontline workers for their selflessness care and love during the COVID-19 crisis: doctors, nurses, grocery store employees, and anyone else I may have missed.
at last you have won her over the years of admiring her and soaking her in in absolute awe and mustering up the courage to ask her to hold your hand forever in this roller coaster of a life but now that you have her never forget to eternally chase her inebriating mystic the very thing that drew your eyes to her when you first saw her in that little brick coffee shop behind her laptop and thick framed glasses lost in spilling her thoughts out onto paper