Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
As people merge into a line to board our airplane, a Grandmother steps up and then steps back. She asks the boy behind me if he and I are waiting together. Since this is the Istanbul airport, she asks him in Turkish, and since we are boarding a flight to his home town of Vienna, he blinks at her and can’t reply. I turn with a grin, happy to be able to speak Turkish while I can, and tell her, “No, he looks like my brother, but my brother is much taller.” She explains that she didn’t want to cut between relatives. She and I grow close instead.
Her mascara is white, or her eyelashes are white. She is wearing freshly applied pink lipstick and Burberry plaid-framed glasses. She asks if I am cold (yes, this is a theme). I’m in a sleeveless shirt, my usual for flights since I am nearly always warm on an airplane. She says she is cold, even though she’s wearing two sweaters and a jacket.
Down the jetway, we chat for a while about her vacation ahead in Austria, her sisters and how long they have lived there, and how she will also go to beautiful Budapest. We agree it is a magnificent city. Once we step into the plane, there’s a wave of heat, like someone has opened an oven to check on dinner. I lean toward her and ask if she is still cold. She laughs–“No, my girl ,not anymore.” At her seat, I tell her to “Have a nice trip, big sister,” and she laughs again.
I must admit, for the last few years, I’ve felt unsure about my purpose. I’m not sure where I should be or what I should be doing. She gives me a wave midway through the flight and I feel perhaps this is my odd vocation: to ease the long waits with fellow human beings, to look strangers in the eye, and to be grateful that smiling is in my nature.
–In flight between Istanbul and Vienna