“Think of a topic or issue about which you’ve switched your opinion. Why the change?
Photographers, artists, poets: show us TRANSITION.”
She crinkled her nose. She hated the smell of airports. To be honest, she thought, she hated airports. Period. She tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for the baggage carousel to start moving. She’d just jumped off of a thirteen hour flight – and it hadn’t been a pleasant one. Her mind flared as she thought of being surrounded by four wailing babies. The audio jack for her screen wasn’t working so she’d been left to fend off the agonizing wails of the infants. The bags under her eyes were visible enough to make her pass for being a blood-deprived vampire. She checked her watch. Where the hell were the bags? She barely noticed the arrival of a new human being. She heard his cheerful whistling before she saw him. The sound grated her ears. That was a result of her abominable mood.
“Looks like it’s a slow day today,” he chirped. She looked at him. He was talking to her.
“Yeah, looks like it,” she replied quietly. He nodded.
“So what’s your story?” he asked her. She looked at him, astounded. This guy had only been standing next to her for a couple of seconds and he was already asking her questions like “what’s your story”? That was a rather forward move. She blinked a couple of times.
“What do you mean?” she asked him.
“Exactly that,” he replied. “What’s your story? Why are you here?”
The nerve of this man, she thought. How dare he question her like he had a right to do so? She sighed.
“Flew in from South Africa,” she explained. “Student looking to take a break and find herself.”
“When’d you lose yourself?” he asked simply. She looked at him, lost for words.
“I beg your pardon?” she asked him, partially flabbergasted.
“When did you lose yourself?” he asked again. She felt a surge of annoyance travel through her system. She didn’t have time for this. She, for some reason though, felt a need to reply.
“A while back,” she replied. He nodded. He bent over and picked up a single backpack. She was taken aback; when did the carousel start moving? She wondered. He stood up straight and smiled at her.
“Well, I’m off,” he said. “Good luck finding yourself.”
He sauntered off before she could reply. She shook her head. What kind of guy was he? Asking her such questions like he knew her. She wrote him off as a typical twenty-something male who thought that he had the right to question everyone around him. She hauled her suitcase off of the carousel with the force of an angered warrior goddess. She checked that she had everything and headed for the airport entrance. She sighed. Let the journey begin.
Six months later.
She exited Starbucks with her Vanilla latte in one hand and her prized cinnamon-coated bun, safely packaged. She looked around. London mornings were the epitome of the term “hustle and bustle”. People everywhere with important things to do, important people to see, and important things to say. There she was just hoping she’d get back to her flat with her breakfast intact. She allowed the chilly breeze to tickle her cheek as she waited to cross the road. The traffic light was refusing to change but it didn’t bother. In her six months of “self-discovery” she’d learned the true meaning of patience – she learned the hard way. From blatantly manipulative cab drivers, to bartenders with very shaky hands, and all the way to the rather grumpy people she encountered on the daily – she’d learned. She’d learned a lot of lessons and she was glad.
“Look out!” she heard someone yell. She looked around but didn’t get a chance to see anything as she was tackled to the ground.
“What the…?” she looked up and gasped. She knew that face. It was him. The cocky guy from the airport. Her world came into better focus as she heard the commotion around her. She sat up slowly and looked around. Her mouth formed an oval shape as she saw a cab partially wrapped around the pole she’d been leaning on. The driver was standing above her, simultaneously asking her worried questions and apologizing. A small group of people surrounded her but she kept looking at “Airport Guy”. He was looking at her.
“You saved me,” she said. Her voice sound terribly weak. It must have been the shock. He grinned.
“Yeah, looks like I did,” he replied. “Fancy meeting you again like this.”
She nodded quietly as she looked at her spilled coffee and crushed cinnamon bun. She shuddered as she realized that had it not been for Airport Guy, she would’ve ended up in a far more severe state compared to her crushed breakfast. Airport Guy helped her up.
“How?” she asked. That’s the only thing that could leave her mouth.
“I saw you, recognized you and was on my way to greet you but then I saw the cab hurtling towards you and you were in a world of your own,” he explained. If she was white, she would’ve been as red as a tomato. “So I took a risk and rugby tackled you to the ground. I half expected you to deck me when you sat up.”
“Why?” she asked. Since when was she a woman of monosyllabic words? She wondered.
“Well, I didn’t think that you’d want to see my face,” he responded simply. “I pissed you off at the airport.”
She looked away sheepishly.
“Sorry,” she replied quietly. He tilted her chin and smiled.
“It’s alright,” he said. “I’m used to it. The whole judge a book by its cover thing.”
“Well, I’ve revoked my first review of the book,” she smiled. “This book is a piece worth keeping.”
“Well it looks like you lost your breakfast,” he observed the sad sight that lay a meter away from them. “How about I treat you to a proper breakfast?”
She looked at him suspiciously. He raised his hands in the air.
“We’re all friends here,” he said. “Besides, no one can turn down good bacon.”
“True,” she smiled.
“The joint may look a little disappointing,” he warned. “But trust me, your opinion will change once you’ve had a forkful of eggs, toast and bacon.”
She nodded happily.
“Well it wouldn’t be the first time my opinion has changed about something,” she added. They looked at the harried crowd that surrounded the accident. She shrugged.
“Let’s go,” she said. They walked away cheerfully.
“So the last time I checked,” he said, “You were on some journey of some sort? Rediscovering yourself?”
She laughed and nodded.
“Well, how’s it going? Have you found yourself yet?”
She paused thoughtfully.
“No,” she replied. “A wise someone and their smart aleck questions taught me something.”
“What’s that?” he asked, amused.
“I never lost myself,” she said simply. “Never have and I never will.”
“Any other gems you picked up?” he asked.
“Yep,” she responded. “One person’s annoyance is another person’s hero. I was the lucky bugger who got both.”