Day 1: Wave 1
It sets in like a cold, symptom by symptom. Nervousness in airport transit, languages you can not identify pummeling your ears. Crowds pressing up all around you, every individual sharing in the common denominator of travel, sharing the same air, but all too wrapped up in their own journey to notice much else or speak beyond the basics of finding their gates. Security. Your anonymity and scrutiny are in painful magnification.
Your clutching your passport tightly, feeling it every few minutes to check yet again if it remains in your pocket. You’re paranoid of European pick pocketing. But the reality is that you are surrounded by internationals from every continent, 99.9% of them doing the same thing as you: slightly panicking about getting to their destination. Again you pat your chest to feel that comforting rectangle. You pull it out for quick showing as you hustle into what looks like more security checks. No. It’s only the English customs check and they don’t need to see it yet. You have to mix your luggage up a bit to find your liquids to show them. They talk loudly and articulately, but not kindly, not to their fault…it’s their job to get people through. You’re fumbling at the supplied tables, trying not to hold up the line. Have you got everything? You scurry toward security to be checked again, and you tap your pocket, but you feel nothing. You panic. Has your trip ended before you’ve even finished transit? Even worse, your no one without that laminated rectangle; you have essentially become as misplaced as it. Sweat begins to bead your upper lip and your jacket feels like a wearable greenhouse. How you smell has become irrelevant. Your at basic instincts level, already. Wobbling about, trying to disguise the fact that you are in panic, your eyes strain for some sighting of the lost passport. How could you have misplaced it? You’d been so careful…too careful. You’d touched it too many times, the neurotic necessity to handle it and feel it in your possession blinding you to your own human error. You could die right now and no one back home would know! In fact, you probably will die! Geeze, they’ll probably just toss your body into recycling or you’ll end up in one of those “BODIES” exhibits!!!
“Passport! Someone need their passport?!” Oh man! You race toward the voice with a mechanical smile plastered over your lips which are slightly trembling. Ironic, you’d picked your own pocket.