During the descent the plane drops sickly and the passengers all gasp as one. In the Miami airport my mother starts crying into her shrimp and garlic.
This is sick, my dad tells the waitress.
Do you not like it? she asks, confused.
Towards London the clouds become thick and heavy underneath us. Substantial, strong—a canopy of cotton. It’s hard to imagine a situation of peril with those clouds below, to catch and absorb us and make us stick, midair.
Was that your mom running after you? she asks. This is after we’ve been waiting in line next to each other for two hours. Our flight has been cancelled. The fog around London makes the airport windows look covered by a mile long snowdrift.
Oh. Yeah. I say. I haven’t talked to anyone for fifteen hours and for a second I forget how it works. The opening of the mouth, the words coming out, the understanding and acknowledgement, the normal back-and-forth of human conversation.
She’s very sweet, she says.
Yeah, yeah, she’s nice. I’m going to miss her.
At customs I am asked the following questions: How long have you been away from the UK? What was the purpose of your trip to Jamaica? What does your tattoo mean?
He points. They always ask me these questions. They always catch me off guard. Just a few minutes before a man wearing sunglasses perched up on his forehead asked me if he could take a picture of my outfit. I like your boots, he explained. No, sorry, I said, not sorry.
I write, I live. I say. It’s Italian.
Huh, he says. What do you do for a living?
Oh. I write.
He smiles, the nice sort of genuine smile you rarely see from such important airport-workers.
And you live, I suppose, he says.
Try to, anyway.
Then he laughs and waves me on.
I drink a cappuccino and eat a salad with chickpeas and aubergines. I listen to the same song ten times and I think about something my dad said before I kissed him goodbye.
My daughter, he says, hugging me around my shoulders. Like I might have forgotten, or like maybe he’s reminding himself.
It could go either way. I could see it going either way.
Yes well, I want to say (but don’t, because there isn’t enough time) so can anything, right? So can anything.
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