The Airport Community

Going everywhere except here.

Detroit Airport, Michigan USA,   May, 2017.

 A chance to be 10 hours in the airport on my way home to England. I spend it walking, reading, walking, singing, walking, sleeping, walking, and people-watching.  So many bodies are here with me, milling around, but their thoughts, hearts, and souls are somewhere else – Out There.

Coffee from Leon’s TO GO – the server can’t do the math when I offer $5.75 for a $2.75 Americano. But she has a sweet smile. Makes two syllables out of the three-letter word LID.  The coffee is an effete, watery,  liquid probably with added tea.  I watch the lukewarm substance glug down the drinking fountain drain. Throw the soggy cardboard cup away.  Never mind.  I’m in transit.  I’m not really here either.  Don’t have to go to Leon’s again.

Little birds fly around the ceiling, or drop to the floor to peck at human leftovers. Even they will leave the airport at dusk, and go home to roost.

The corridor to Concourse A and B takes me down steep escalators to a wide shallow tunnel with colored side panels.  They suddenly burst alive into music which dances the panels into reds, fuschias, and emeralds. I wander around in wonder, surrounded by a symphony of sound and light.  All this for the pleasure, of traversing to concourses A and B.  What a generous gift for people whose only presence is their physical bodies!

“May I help you ma’am?” a staff member asks as I gape amazed. Staff actually caring and offering support before I know my own need.  I’m not used to this. It happens frequently here.  Staff and volunteers take delight in serving people.

Groups travelling together, joking lightly to cover the anxieties of new adventure. Talking about the future where their holiday really begins.  Not here of course.  This is a Nothing Place.

Guarded greetings of “suits” gather for a 300 member business conference. Hands shaken.  A few wary “how’s it going?”s  suffice until the true meeting takes place in the airport hotel.

Bars with glowing back-lit bottles host strangers who open conversations on safe subjects.  Where from?  Where going?  Past and Future, in an invisible Present.

Echoing announcements warning of imminent departures in the airport’s chosen languages of English, Chinese, and is it Japanese? raise the stress levels even higher.  Messages of  phones and laptops left on board.  Did passengers even notice that they’d lost something as they pushed forward into their own futures?

Passersby talking and gesticulating into the air.  “But why are you never there?”  “Well, if you’re only going to get 400 tomorrow, why not…..”  “I saw the posters and they’re not good”.  “Goodby honey.  I love you.”  I think they’re attached to their hidden phones, but who knows?   Hearts, minds and souls disembodied.  Others, slumped in seats, head down, huddled closely to their tablets, somewhere else, blanking out the reality of their surroundings.

Crowds decanted from recently-arrived planes mix with pilots and flight attendants and interweave with crowds hurrying the other way, their roller suitcases grumbling behind.

Amidst it all, a mother sits on the floor against a wall at Gate 22 breastfeeding her baby, a visible pool of serenity in the surrounding rush. Mother and baby – who knows what their thoughts might be!

Suppertime. And the food that builds this community rejoices in alcohol, ice cream, and deep fried somethings in a bun. But tucked among them all is PLUM MARKET  LIVE WELL WITH TASTE, whose brown paper bags proclaim a thesaurus of mouthwatering adjectives:  “fresh, colorful, tender, organic, gourmet, unprocessed, quality, all natural, lean, authentic,  sustainable, zesty, pure TASTE, crisp, local, slow food, hearty, choice, succulent, classic, housemade, wholesome, traditional, savory, hormone-and-antibiotic free.”  Who could resist?  I choose curry cashew chicken salad and freshly cooked asparagus.  The bag speaks truth.

After a whole book’s worth in time, my flight number is called and I board a Delta jet at 10.25 pm. Seconds later the sun rises over London.  We touch down at 11.10 a.m.  There is husband John to welcome me – wonderful!

In our kitchen I find the outer wrapping of a prepared meal he’d bought: Chicken Dijonnaise.  Never heard of it before.  Have you?  Decide to try it myself.

Chicken Dijonnaise

Heat 1 tablespoons olive oil and ½ tablespoon butter in a wide frying pan.  Fry 3-4 chopped spring (green) onions very gently, then add a cup of so of sliced mushrooms. Remove to a warmed serving dish when done. Leave the oil and any remaining mushroom juices in the pan.  Now very gently add 2 cut up chicken fillets on low heat.  Stir in 1 teaspoon tarragon.  Mix well. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon turmeric. Mix well (again).  When the turmeric no longer smells raw, add a cup of white wine, and poach the chicken, covered, until there’s only a bit of pink in the middle (Unless you’re psychic, you’ll have to cut a piece open to see.)   Remove chicken and vegetables with a slotted spoon to your warmed serving dish.  Boil away the wine until there’s less than half an inch of wine (this will thicken the gravy). Add ½ pint (8 – 10 ozs about a cup) double cream and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Mix well (a third time).  Bring to boil.  Taste for seasoning.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and mushrooms. Keep warm in a low oven. We served this over brown rice.  Worked well.

Home at last — where body, mind, soul, and heart are all in the same place. Hurrah!



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