"Last call to all passengers on flight EK902 heading to Amman. Please proceed to gate 14. The plane is boarding now." Bellowed the speaker
"Ok it's time." I mumbled to myself as I pushed myself into the waiting room, crowded with couples holding each others' hands, children chasing each other, babies sleeping in trolleys, Asian business men with feet resting on their briefcases and a lady exchanging business cards with a man whose left hand was dug deep in his pocket.
I opened the thick, paperback novel safely coating my passport and ticket. I handed the bulky Philipino attendant my boarding pass, who fed it into the machine and handed me a chipped boarding pass. As I walked past the gate, I got a familiar, eerie shiver in my spine. It is the feeling I get when I'm in a restaurant or café and leave without my keys, cell phone, or worse important documents.
Open book. Tickets, check. Passport, check. I felt my pockets. Keys, check. I felt my butt. Wallet, check. Alter ego. I picked my brain. Ummm where's my alter ego?
I looked back at Sami who was eyeing the board flashing Emirates logo, muttering the time and flight number.
"C'mon man. We'll be late. They're already boarding." I said straddling my laptop bag.
I pointed towards the fanatic group of people shoving and pushing eagerly headed to the place that they and me call home. People who in one way or another resembled me, shared the same heritage and traditions with me, yet at the same time were nothing like me. I quickly skimmed around for babies, wondering which one will maestro the orchestra of wailing children 5 minutes into the flight.
"I don't wanna go"said Sami
"I don't wanna go. I can't"
"I don't belong there anymore. I just, I can't stand it there. It doesn't feel right. I've changed"
"Don't be silly, we had a great time last summer, what's wrong with you?"
"I can't stand the familiarity, the how-have-you-beens, the could-have-dones. The questions, the meandering, the picking. The whys, the who's, the where's."
He fell silent for awhile
"I want to be alone."
I looked at the plane emblazoned with Emirates airlines logo, parked outside, with a tube stuck into its guts feeding huddling people and their luggage into it, like an umbilical cord feeding an unborn child.
"Look man. I cannot miss this flight. I already told your parents that we are coming and they're expecting us. Or me. Whatever."
"I know. Say hi to them. Will miss your mom's food. But I just can't do it."
"Sir, are you getting onto the plane?" interjected the Philipino attendant.
"Yes, yes I am" I said defiantly.
I walked into the empty waiting room and through the tunnel, my heavy steps echoing against the walls, my bag beating against my hip. I sat on my seat, beside the window, fastened my seat belt and listened to the instructions. In case of emergency, the plane has 6 emergency exits, here, here and here. In the unlikely event of ..I mumbled after the virtual waitress on my screen. An isle across from me, sat a green-eyed brunette, with a gold chain proudly displayed on her chest. She was looking directly at me, long after I broke eye contact.
Even alter-egos, in make-believe worlds, need a break.