“Welcome home!” said the airport customs agent when I arrived in Orlando. Everyone walking around with “Disneyworld 2014” sweatshirts, children shrieking and carrying tons of Disney gear, televisions everywhere, news of gun violence in Canada is the first thing I hear about. The noise level is almost unbearable. Commercials. Ads. Buy this, buy that, be scared. Someone has jumped the fence of the White House.
No more silence, or sound of waves, or quiet conversations. No more elegance of Spanish rolling off of the tongue. Certainly no one racing to help me with my bags. Welcome home. Where we all fight for ourselves. Where community so often feels like a word that we don’t really understand.
Welcome home, to the room you dreaded imagining yourself in. All of the comforts of warm showers and down comforters, and So. Many. Things. Where everything you need to accomplish, from seeking new relationships to finding a new career, is most efficiently completed from your computer screen.
Goodbye morning walk on the beach, and thinking about ways to create as the sun rises over the ocean. Goodbye quiet conversations over oatmeal and yerba mate as we gently welcome the day. Goodbye meeting new people and creating new friendships every day. Goodbye Buenas Dias and Buenas Tardes and Buen Provecho. Como Estas? No one here seems to care.
There is a machine at the airport that completely wraps your luggage in plastic. As if it is a piece of food that will spoil before you get to your final destination. I think about how the amount of plastic used to wrap one luggage is probably equal to all of the plastic I collected on the beach over a period of five weeks, and somehow everything seems so futile. I pay $150 baggage fee because I am crying too much to figure out how to redistribute 15 pounds of wet dirty laundry. I pay $65 for a taxi because it is just too hard to make myself leave Akumal at 9:00am. Waste waste waste. I am angry at myself.
It doesn’t feel like home. But maybe, in a few days, with a few more commercials, and a few more doors closed in my face, a few more meals passing by without anyone to share them with, it will feel more like home?
As I board the flight from Orlando to Boston, I am excited that the middle seat in my row is empty…until a woman my age buckles her life-size Minion doll into the seat. People think it is funny and laugh. I spend the 3 hour flight looking at a gigantic yellow one-eyed monster, thinking about how he didn’t pay the fee to upgrade to “even more space” seating.