Necessary Space

Milwaukee Airport

Airport security check. This morning I was standing in Milwaukee's long security line with my shoes off and it occurred to me that there is no other place besides a locker room, where I undo my belt and strip it off among strangers. Where else are we all forced to shuffle next to each other, in our socks? That long human conveyor line is like a whole other culture with it's own odd rules.
It's a funnel of humanity. We all shift from a random crowd into lines. We all relinquish everything we are carrying, and hope to get it back again. And, we are all treated like we're headed for the same plane. Which, rings somewhat true. Because, I guess we are, in a larger sense, all headed toward an inevitable endpoint in life.
Re-Grouping. I think the regrouping is the worst part of security. When those grey plastic bins roll down the conveyor after me, I feel like I'm on a game show with a big timer clicking and my pending prize is a flight home. Only, in this game there is no cheering studio audience. It's just me racing the clock while doing odd tasks -- retrieve, repack, re-group -- go, go, go!
I hate being the slow one in line, with bins piling up. It's hard to shake the performance pressure when people are backed up behind me because my shoe is not cooperating or my belt is backwards. All stripped down, we all have to do it. We all have to quickly re-dress and reassemble before we can proceed on to the next leg of our journey.
The sign. Today, I was surprised to find an area set up for the awkward reassembly. At the end of the rolling conveyor line, there were chairs and tables, and a long sign overhead. I took a picture of it for you (above) because the name made me laugh out loud. The Recombobulation Area. There was another woman next to me taking a picture of the sign. We were both amused. (I wonder if she's blogging about it, too. And I wonder if her spellcheck also refuses to acknowledge it as a word.)
I sat under the sign. And, the longer it took me to get my shoes back on, the more that area started to feel like my trip's final transition -- the last stop between where I'd been and where I was headed.
My plane lifted off, bound for Denver. I got to thinking about where I'd been this weekend. The clouds rolled by, and my mind replayed moments and conversations... and replayed them again. I spent two nights back in Chicago, in rooms filled with people from my childhood. My 25th High School Reunion was spent with some important friends who hold my history in story pieces and parts. And I hold theirs. That gathering sent me to another place -- like being in an vaguely recognizable land, in another life, with familiar faces. And, even though many parts of that past have profoundly shaped who I am, most of it resides in another place & time. Afterwards, in transit, I had a hard time figuring out how to mesh those two worlds again.
It's necessary to create a space. And all of that makes me think ... maybe the Recombobulation Area is needed in places other than airports. Back in my car, on the highway home, I decided to find my own transition area. I took an off-road turn in Garden of the Gods and climbed up on my favorite high, red, huge flat rock. I stared at the blue Colorado sky and thought about the Illinois rain I'd left behind. I sat between where I'd been and where I was going. My pen scribbled down down pieces of conversation that warrant my remembering, and dumped out two days' contents in order for it all to be examined in one place. I jotted notes about those important friends. I sat for a while with the young girl that had grown up among them. I listened to her thoughts, cried with her, smiled at memories with her. And, after a long process of check-in, I reassembled her dumped-out pieces and regrouped. I put her grown-up shoes back on her feet, turned on her cell phone, re-packed her bag, and headed up the mountain for the next part of my journey. Recombobulated ... for a while, anyhow.
So, maybe we all need an area for recombobulation. It's important to have time to sit with our shoes off, set down the cell phone, and look at the contents of the trip we've been on. Because, sometimes it's just plain hard to transition from where we've been -- to where we're going. Or maybe, from who we were, to who we are becoming.


christianoutlaw said...

I haven't read your blog in a while, and it was good to catch up on the life of Kelley. I love your writing style, it always intrigues me. Miss you lots.


Julie said...

Love this! Necessary words for me to hear. Sign also made me laugh...I think it hangs over my life right now. Thank you for writing. Love you friend, J

Carol said...


Tassie said...

mmmmhhhhhmmm . . . what she said.