Tuesday, January 3, 2012


This is how my semester abroad in Dublin starts: 10 hours in the Newark airport.  Gate C125.  Seemingly miles of pewter blue vinyl-upholstered chairs stretch out on either side.  Time passes like a long film clip, all scrunched up into a few shots, the way you see the subways in some movies, people flowing in a blur of their most noticeable characteristics of denim shirts, wailing kids, droopy gauge earrings, fake tans.  Travelers have come in tidal swells for departures to Denver, Houston, and some other flight whose destination I didn't care to check.  You can see the New York skyline off in the distance, the Chrysler building gleaming in the afternoon shimmer.  Taunting.  Flying in to Newark only cemented the negative connotations I had associated with New Jersey.  Desolate cargo bays, freighters coughing up black smoke, schoolyards built on brown, dirty scrum, these otherworldy cargo cranes that stand solemnly, a hundred feet above the massive cookie-cutter housing districts.  As I write, I am actually watching drab little birds–maybe sparrows–fly around the gate, trying to poop on travelers waiting for their flight.  All along the windowsills are little mounds of dried and cracked bird poo.  And the accents aren't a joke–big guys in sweatsuits with gelled hair talking to their wives like their mouths are filled with marbles, laughs like old engines, trying to turn.  There's also the largest preponderance of Hassidic Jews I've ever seen–full suits, wide brimmed hats, and they appear to be speaking Yiddish.  Even their kids have cute earlocks already, bouncing as they run around the terminal.  I think there must be a convention.  Or maybe just a flight to Israel.  All the while, these birds are chirping, the mom bringing the little ones scraps of SmashBurger and Auntie Ann's.  The TV drones, showing me various politicians, all vowing to the evils of taxes and immigration laws.  They tell me that all of this will change soon.  Mass applause.

Yet my plane to Europe boards in three hours.

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