Can’t help myself.

writingI’m writing it all down. Not on this page, but in the pages of a black lined notebook I had gotten at Sabiha Gökçen Airport with a few of my last Turkish Liras. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but as soon as I walked into the bookshop, I knew I wanted to find something to write in. Aparently, the massaging chair I’d just used my last 2 1-lira coins on, had put me in such a relaxed state of mind that it suddenly all made sense. As soon as I saw the small stack of A5-notebooks, I picked up one with the image of an antique camera on the front. It was wrapped in clear plastic, but through the stiff material I could tell that the image had been printed on some kind of linnen lining. It was perfect. After paying the clerk his 9 lira 95, I was on my way to the atrium that was the arrivals and departures hall in one.

Because the dolmus that brought me from the city center arrived at the airport a good 4 hours before my flight left, I had some time to kill. The luggage drop off hadn’t opened yet, and as I sat at the edge of some show car’s stage, I looked amusedly at – what had to be – other early Dutch tourists waiting in line two hours too early. An understanding grin appeared across my face. How is that most people want to spend their time waiting in a line that doesn’t move? The same happens when passengers are first called for boarding their flight. Sometimes even half an hour before boarding, I whitness people forming a line, chatting in different languages about trivial things like the trip they’re about to embark upon, how the food was, how stark the tanlines on their shoulders are. This process intrigues me. It’s in these moments that I like to sit back and watch it all happen. I pretend not to understand the conversations around me, feigning to have different nationality whenever I’m surrounded by Dutch. I guess I usually succeed because my hair is darker now, my skin evenly and deeply tanned. Plus, reading a novel with an English cover probably helps, too. As I sit comfortably in the leather seats in the waiting lounge, I love observing the group behavior of my fellow travelers.

Sitting at that edge beside the shiny car, it wasn’t any different. I sat, with my luggage between my knees, and watched it all happen. The only difference this time, was that I was now the proud owner of a little black book, full with blank paiges ready to receive the endless stories that were waiting to burst out of me. In the back of the book, the makers had created a little pocket, where little notes, receipts and bubblegum wrappers could be stored. For now, I just placed the receipt of the duty-free store inside the pocket. It seemed fiting to put it there, after all, it was the proof that now my story had a destination – a place to become real rather than just inside my head.

Slowly and carefully I traced the edge of the plastic to discover the part where the glue line didn’t reach. Regarding that I probably had to stow the book in my handluggage at some part of my journey, I tried open the wrapping without breaking it, ready to re-use. Success. As if I were handling a rare, ancient manuscript, I ceremoniously took the notebook from its emballage. This was it. I reached inside my trolly to retrieve the ballpoint that I’d gotten at the Transavia desk on my way over to Turkey. If I were to write in a book I got at the airport, I might as well use an airline pen to give my words the wings they needed to reach the people they were meant for. This was really it.

Not minding the elder couple that had decided to exit the line and sit beside me on the edge of that stage, I tried to find a comfortable position. It must have looked interesting to say the least, to see a girl, hairs still damp from the summer rains of Sultanahmet, dressed in  a bright blue fleece vest and a floral skirt with her limbs strewn across her backpack, all the while ferociously filling the virgin paper with ink. I wrote as neatly as could be expected of someone using a carry-on trolly as a desk. I cursed when I noticed I had misspelled a word. For a moment, I hesitated. Should I let it sit there, keeping the page somewhat neat, or should I cross it out, and correct my mistake? It might seem a trivial choice, but for me it made a world of difference. I was pouring my heart out in these pages, and I wanted the book to be perfect. But what defines perfect? No blotches, straight lines and curly penmanship? Or should perfection be found in the writings, pure and raw as the feelings they represented? I had no other choice but to choose the latter. I felt like I was writing up my own history, my present and my future. Like it had finally all come together, and that coming-togetherness had to be captured in its clearest form.

After having filled at least ten pages, I finally looked up. The line at the luggage drop-off had started to move, as the two desks were now manned by two Turks who routinously were accepting suitcases, labelling them and sending them off to the belly of the metal bird that would fly them home. I sat still, pausing. Every step I took in the direction of the plane and boarding, would mean a step away from Turkey, and all the treasures the country harboured. Each step would mean a step away from adventure, happiness, love. Of course, love and happiness also awaited me back home, but waiting for a flight back home always makes me melancolic this way. It’s one of the reasons I love observing people in the waiting room, watching people get anxious over flying while they’ve done it at least once before. It’s like they’re scared they’ll miss the plane, like how you can miss a bus. It makes sense, of course. Unlike missing a bus, you can’t just hop on the next plane to take you home. To whichever destination you choose. Not standing in line with them gives me the chance to hold on to my trip a little longer, to store my memories extra safely inside my head and in my heart.

When I decided that the line had cleared enough for me, I picked up the plastic cover and neatly put my novel-in-progress inside it. I added the pen, and secured the stickey flip again. I carefully put the package in my carry on – not losing it from my sight. Although I still dreaded leaving, at least now part of my story had been immortalized. At least now, I had my writing. And for that moment, that was enough.

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