I cannot get any work done in my room, so I decide to go to the airport, which plays to my fantasy as the pained writer who only finds his muse gazing at the bottoms of SIA stewardesses at the Departure Hall.
The giant slide at Terminal 3 breaks out a huge grin in me. I want to hop on at the highest floor and slide all the way down. The giant slide is a three story tall riff on playfulness that will define me as carefree and fun if I take it. I will no longer wonder that the innocent 3 day delay before you replied to my email caused me so much pain, all the more absurd because you did not and will not suspect it; or that my John Mayer fender stratocaster, like most guitars lying in bedrooms, is far prettier to look at than to listen to when I actually play it; I will forget that I have not written or read anything substantive in months, nor will I suspect that I work long nights because I work to forget. This colourful 3 storey tall slide will be a celebration of escapism.. I approach the slide with a big grin and study the sign at the entrance. If it is only for children, then I will look like a fool, so I look cautiously to the people close by for any sign on how I should properly behave. Their faces do not betray much, so I give up and approach the attendant, who tells me I need to spend $10 in a single receipt. I imagine taking a girl out to the airport and casually discovering, oh happy accident, that the $20 we spent on espresso and scones gets us 2 free rides on the slide. But no, I am by myself and looking about for somewhere to play the part of pained writer. It is a comforting fantasy, because being a writer I indulge the lie that I am silent because I choose to suffer silently when in fact, I am silent because I have been struck dumb by a hollow sadness. I pretend to study the foibles of the people in my life, so I can pretend to be enlightened, but then even that refuge is denied me, my notebook is empty, I reek of cowardice.
So I walk about to find relief from the royal mind job I am giving myself. I feel better because the airport is a place of promise and people are leaving for adventure and they are bidding tearful farewells and hugging each other so long, they are still hugging when I look back after walking the length of the terminal. There are also the fabulous and well made up who are ready to tackle the public transport system in another country with their luggage.
Especially lending itself to fantasy is the arrival or departure board. The electronic one will do just as well as the traditional board that flips about in a synchronized wave of clickity clacking. Bangkok promises go-go girls sticking bottles in their girly parts. Qing Dao of course has its namesake beer, and I imagine politely asking where to find the bus that will take me to the city centre, I will be speaking apologetically in English and explaining that my chinese is no good. Amsterdam I can find a friend in and that failing, there is still Cannabis and whores protected by Hell’s Angels who will throw you out if she mashes the panic button. Tokyo is no longer chic, with all the pictures in the papers of farmers pouring away their radiated milk. Beside this, a sign that says Sky Train to Terminal 2. In the sky train, a Malay SIA girl, fabled, form fitting, with a boyfriend.
Terminal 2 is clean and quiet, not too chilly. I walk past plaques that declare this was opened by Goh Chok Tong in 1991, Raymond Lim oversaw the upgrading works a few years later. A third plaque for a third construction project I cannot remember. I can’t help but remember the Lee Kuan Yew remark about the airport being a visitor’s first impression, and I am proud that we have a nice airport.
Each toilet has a guardian in a blue uniform, like some Tolkien-esque quest, I walk past warily, will he tell me I cannot use his toilet because the toilets in the Terminal must be presentable to visitors? I walk past with mustered dignity and shit as quietly as I can in the cubicle, a Frodo facing his Mount Dhoom, but with my digits intact. As I walk out, a touch screen asks me to rate the toilet cleaner, and because the toilet is clean, there is no question that he is “excellent”.
Eventually I settle down beside the T3 arrival hall to think, to collect myself, to write about something and hopefully write away my hunger pangs because I do not want to eat today. I fantasize about not eating for a few days and becoming a thin devastatingly sexy vampiric waif. So I try to remember what life was like when I was more exciting, but then I can only remember bits and pieces, like a thin wrist with yellow crystal beads peeking from a black cuff, wondering if those are Buddhist and perhaps they have something to do with meditation, which is calming and tranquil and is exactly what I need. You do not notice me because we were talking pleasantly about something trivial. I was actually dismembering your hand and putting it away inside me.