Neither Here Nor There
An airport is nowhere
which is not something
yet some unnamed person in the past
deliberately planned it
and you have spent time there
for something you have done
which you do not entirely remember
like the souls in Purgatory
you sit there in the smell
of what passes for food
breathing what is called air
while the timepieces measure
you believe in it
while you are there
because you are there
sometimes you may even feel happy
to be that far on your way
~ W. S. Merwin, from The Moon Before Morning
One of my dearest friends from college is currently traveling abroad in Vienna, Austria, and I just received a letter from her in the mail yesterday. The card was so sweet, the perfect little rectangular size to hold in the hands, and read over and over again. On the front was a watercolour painting of the Cliffs of Moher that my friend wrote “it would look like if it ever was sunny there.” It’s cliché to say, I know, but a great deal of nostalgia hit me as I was reading that lovely note, and I couldn’t quite believe that just last year at around this time, I too had been standing in front of those breathtaking and wind-swept cliffs, holding the salty air in my lungs and then slowly letting it go, out into the bright blue sky. It had been sunny that day, biting cold at the top of the cliffs, and we had yet to go to lunch – where I would order seafood chowder that came in an egg-shell crock-pot bowl and Irish Soda bread on the side, nutty, dense, and sweet.
The Irish landscape was captivating and charming at once, full of lush greenery and crumbling old churches and castles. Sheep grazed idyllically in fields, and the colours of moss and gray and mustard yellow seemed to infuse every inch of the land. The afternoon brought thunderclouds and a spray of angry, pelting rain. With thunder-claps in the distance, we ran with jackets over heads, back to the tour bus and then promptly fell asleep on the long drive home, the evening sun coming through the bus windows to warm and calm everyone.
This poem brought back a flood of memories – all the time sitting in airports, dreaming and writing and reading. The longest train ride of my life from Prague to Budapest. The time my friends and I slept in the Athens airport because we had to catch a 5am flight back to Denmark. The sweet taste of the cappuccino when we arrived in Florence, rolling our suitcases awkwardly and haphazardly across the rolling cobble-stone streets, lugging them up flights of stairs to the most perfect apartment with gauze curtains blowing in the open windows. And finally, that last flight from Frankfurt to Denver – home after 4 months of everything, and I was so happy and sad all at once. It’s a feeling hard to describe, but there’s some peace mixed in with the feeling, which has taken me awhile to realize – the feeling of peace. It is only until it is gone that I really notice it, appreciate it, and I’m trying now to understand it more when I feel it. I think this poem so poignantly encapsulates this moment of in-between peace, waiting to go somewhere, leaving another place – for a moment, you don’t really have to be anywhere but right there, and that’s rather a wonderful thought, I think.
I’m a bit late in my posts thus far, and I know that Mondays are usually my poem days, but I figured that this poem was perfect for a Friday Daydreams post, a Monday poem, and pretty much a perfect everyday read. I hope that you are having a good weekend so far, and if you are traveling somewhere new or dreaming about a future trip, I hope you can have a little moment of peace, all to your own.