What To Do if Stuck in Milwaukee
This last month I got stuck in Milwaukee for a very long time. I was headed to Nebraska to see some family and my connecting flight got canceled, so I waited around all day and night until I could hop the next plane to Omaha. I didn't bring my computer.
The airport in Milwaukee isn't very big or very exciting. Unfortunately, I was in one of those state of minds where I couldn't stand still. I wished I had stayed out the night before, been very sleepy and found a corner to curl up in and make some practical use out of my ridiculously long 9 hour layover. But no, I was not sleepy. I was awake and spinning. The first hour I bought a big bag of Chex Mix and a chai tea and took laps around the airport. I checked out all the passengers. I examined all the trashy gossip magazines and thought about buying a t-shirt about cow tipping. Since my Chex Mix and chai tea cost around a million dollars, I decided I couldn't spend anymore money on a new magazine. Plus I had time to kill so it made sense to just stand around and read without buying.
Soon, all the magazines made me annoyed. I was starting to feel like I should start my own business, color categorize everything in my life, and lose five more pounds, so I stepped away from the magazines and sat down.
I tried to do some writing, but instead, around hour five, I started aggressively flirtexting every boy I've been out with once in the last six months. That was pretty fun, but after awhile, even that got boring.
I started digging around in my bag. I planned to organize and find my phone charger, but at the bottom of the bag I stumbled across a book. It was a book I had borrowed from my roommate. At the last second I had thrown it in my bag in case I got bored in Nebraska.
The book is called The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss. The main character in the first couple of chapters has recently had a heart attack. He says he feels his heart can only take so much stress, but the stress of life is coming at him, and so he must place it somewhere.
"When I go it will be my heart. I try to burden it as little as possible. If something is going to have an impact, I direct it elsewhere...Small daily humiliations--these I take, generally speaking, in my liver...Disappointment in myself: right kidney. Disappointment of others in me: left kidney."
The character goes on through a list of stresses and the pattern of where they are placed in his body. Thinking about his dreams as a child gives him stiff fingers.
I looked up from my book and at the people around me in the airport. I looked at people waiting in lines, frustrated or anxious. I saw how each one had different ways of holding that stress in their body. An older man's forehead was wrinkled so tight I imagined he had a pretty bad headache. Another buisness-y looking man was standing so straight, I think most of his anxious energy was running up and down his spine.
Suddenly I wasn't just in an airport, I was in class reading and studying the human beings around me. Every blow we take as a human being, whether emotional or physical, good or bad, must be absorbed somewhere in the body. Some of these manifestations of stress show to the outside world, while others are possibly more internal, and each person processes these blows to the body a little differently.
Isn't it wonderful when what could have been wasted hours in a random airport in Milwaukee turns into a study of our craft, ourselves, and the beautiful people around us? (Just FYI: When it comes to passing hours in a Milwaukee airport, Flirtexting and Chexmix are not nearly as fulfilling as people watching and a good book.)