Gate A21, Logan International Airport. Flight 1785 to Denver.
I am waiting.
There are lots of us waiting to board, sitting in chairs that are somehow comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. There are many people around me, many faces, but it’s like riding in an elevator, or (sorry gals) standing at the urinal: you are aware, but don’t look; you see, but not directly.
No eye contact here.
There are televisions hanging from the ceiling. I can’t see the screens, but I can hear the voices. The news. Talking heads suspended in space. Talking about Tuesday’s election, and what it has done to the country—as if this hasn’t been a topic of discussion for everyone (I repeat: everyone) for weeks. Months. They talk and talk, and I don’t want to listen any more. I’m tired of hearing about the problem they’re discussing. I know the problem. We all do. What I want to hear is someone discussing a solution.
. . . claims that he would build a wall, claims that were picked up as a rallying cry by his supporters . . .
A little boy approaches me, all of three years old, eyes enormous in his tiny face, clutching something in one small fist.
“You have a baga?” he says.
“I have a bagel, yes.” I point to the shapeless mass in his hand. “You do, too, huh?”
Big smile. “Yeah! You bored?”
“A little,” I say. “Yes.”
. . . in a sense it didn’t matter who won; the campaigns run by both parties resulted in a nation divided . . .
“I think he’s asking if you’re boarding soon,” says his mother, from a few seats away.
“Ah.” I bend in my seat, getting down into his airspace. “Yep. Both, actually.”
The big smile becomes huge. A quick jumpy clapping of hands that puts what’s left of his bagel in dire jeopardy, and he’s off, sturdy legs churning, to a seat three down from me; black skin, sweatshirt, workboots, iPod.
Eyes come up. Earbuds come out. “Excuse me?”
. . . broken along racial lines and political parties . . .
The guy with the iPod grins at me as little legs churn away. A woman in a sari is already smiling at my bagel-wielding friend’s approach, dark eyes shining in her café au lait face.
. . . a country split in two . . .
A dark-skinned man—possibly Hispanic?—in a nice suit, pecking away at a knee-balanced laptop.
. . . people all across the country who are afraid . . .
A Hispanic couple, older, holding hands as they sit. He’s wearing an Air Force cap; she pecks, one-handed, at her phone.
. . . how can this nation, so divided, heal?
Tiny sneakers pound my way again. “No baga,” he announces, showing me both empty hands.
“You ate it?”
He smiles. “Yeah.”
I glance up at the eyes that have tracked him in his journey, followed him back to me, the faces all different shapes, all different colors, but all smiling.
“Hey, little man,” I say. “You talking to everyone?”
Biggest smile yet, with a jump and a hand clap. “Yes!”
From her place a few seats away, Mom calls my little friend to her; it’s finally time to board. I know she called him by name, but I didn’t catch it. That doesn’t matter, though, as I watch him gallop her way, giggling.
I’m calling him Hope.