Gate 43

Newly polished shoes, he sits there drinking his 5 o’clock beer next to the family of four eating breakfast. Two strangers share an intimate conversation over coffee. The woman in the red heels nervously fixes her hair in a hand-held mirror. Probably off to see a love interest. There’s a girl crying just outside the restaurant. Minimal effort at concealing the tears. Leaving something behind. Family? Friends? Love? Herself?

There’s something about airports that makes them a concentrated microcosm of human experience. People are either leaving something behind or going towards something or, often, both. Excitement, dread, joy, sorrow, anxiety, banality- all of these coexist in the context of overpriced water and kitschy souvenirs.  Somewhere in this world, there’s a girl who knows more about me than some of my friends do because we shared a 9 hour layover in the New Delhi airport. Her name’s been long-wiped from my memory, her face is a blur, her hair could’ve been blonde or not, but her story, her feelings at the time- these I remember with vivid detail. The same level of detail with which I can recount a conversation over wine with a man who would slip in an out of life randomly, purely by happenstance, for years until finally one day, he called my name at an airport. Both waiting on delayed flights going in opposite directions, we swapped our vastly different feelings about a shared sadness we’d both experienced in our own ways. A sadness we’d both been dealing with throughout all those chance run-ins and late-night sing-alongs. A sadness that had never been revealed until the airport effect washed away standard conversation decorum and left in its wake, something raw and emotionally unfiltered.

And then there’s today.

In some ways, it’s appropriate- even poetic- that my drawn-out breakup culminated in an airport goodbye.  It’s interesting to me that the very thing I was trying to get away from by embracing the relationship at the start, is the same thing I’m going towards after entangling myself in a web of feelings and expectations and shared experience. It’s difficult and painful to extract yourself from another person’s world, especially when you can see and feel how it might be hurting them, but the trust you have to have in yourself to know that the disentanglement is necessary, can be a powerfully grounding force.  Our intertwined worlds gave us both (I hope) greater vision and a more robust understanding of the world we want to exist in. Not only did I get to share my world and experience someone else’s, which is always a gift, but through it, I also learned myself better. My decision-making feels more firm. My lifestyle, more purposeful. My values, more clear. Despite the headache I have from being the girl crying outside the restaurant, I would do it all over again because it’s become a part of the person I’m working towards being. At first, I was hoping to avoid feeling the hurt that comes with a breakup, but now… Now, I’m happy to feel it. I’m happy to know that my time was spent well, that it mattered, and that because of it, I will be better. And hopefully, he feels the same.

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Drive.

I’ve experienced something new this week. I’ve found out what it means to be a man. Specifically, what it means to have the distracting tunnel vision that seems to cloud logical thought and reason all because of sex – “the sex drive of a man,” if you will. Now, moving past the inherent sexism of using those words together to suggest that women’s libidos are typically meager (as this is definitely not the case), let’s accept it for the time being for the sake of understanding each other.

So, I’m having major struggles. Work is not going efficiently at the moment. I need to talk about this. And I have a thought, eyes wide – is this what men deal with everyday, all the time?

So, of course, I ask the experts. Evidence from my small sample size suggests that the short answer is: yes.

From this, I only have more questions alongside greater empathy for the constant struggle. For example, how do you regularly cope with wanting sex multiple times a day, at least every couple of days? How do you concentrate for more than 20 minutes? What is the “typical” ideal frequency of sex? What do you do when your partner isn’t up for sex as much as you’d like? How do you deal with this issue in a long distance relationship? I only have more questions and my newly found respect.

Maybe I’m a little late to the party. It’s taken me some time to deal with other issues before having the capacity to embrace different aspects of who I am and confront the minute details of my sexuality. While it’s only been a few weeks of this awareness, I have a sneaking suspicion that this may well be my steady state. Over these past few weeks, I’ve reaffirmed my understanding that life inevitably changes and wants, desires, and states of mind, fluid – matters of perspective. Like many questions, answers to mine are understandably different from person to person. Luckily, I have ample time to figure them out for myself.

For now, I’m just going to loop This Summer’s Going To Hurt Like a Motherfucker. Foreboding? Perhaps.