30 November 2014

I look away

"I'm sitting down to write. I'll call you back later, I don't exist for now, only in my head." 

The bedroom window is chilled, a thin line between the post-sleep warmth and a day as grey as smoke. I've been at my desk since morning, in front of the blank page. Sentences circle in front of my mind's eye, but they are like an empty baggage belt. I'm thinking back to my trip to Russia in October. It was 4 a.m. when I landed, one of the few flights to touch down at such hour. I flew through Istanbul, it was a soft day, sunny. No one aboard expected to step into the rain. I found myself wondering if coming down from a high feels like this, dark and cutting. Someone joked it was for us to get a cold faster.

A man in front of me in line to passport control sneezes, then coughs -- I roll my coat collar up, as if this would protect me. Somebody hasn't filled out the migration form correctly, the line stops moving. I pull a pack of mints out from my pocket. The cool on my tongue distracts me from joining in the angry groans and hissing whispers. I'd been up for twenty hours, my stomach growls. Except for the two in-flight meals, I didn't eat much that day. I take another mint, and one more. I look forward to my grandmother's crepes, thin and delicate, as if made of lace. 

Another hold-up, now with the luggage. The waiting's turned my thoughts inconsequential. I'm thinking about why I often now prefer a splash of bourbon or gin to a glass of wine. Maybe because I'm getting older. The gin they offered on the flight tasted of ethanol and burnt my tongue, I couldn't finish it. It must have been over half an hour, but the baggage carousel still moves around unladen. 

I look away from my computer screen to find the daylight darker. My stomach growls again.  I go and toast a slice of sourdough bread. The warm crust, crisp and yielding, a layer of almond butter and honey on top, a winter mouthfeel. I toast a second slice. South Park is on TV. I end up watching a few episodes. "I'm cereal, I'm super duper cereal!"

It wasn't a long trip, only a week and a half, but a third day into my stay I was habitually counting down the time until my flight back. It's a terrible thing, it once more felt like a betrayal. 

The daylight's gone, the windows face the night again. A distant row of road lights line the horizon. I pick up the phone to call my parents.

"How have you been? Kak u vas dela? Skuchayu."