Portrait of an encounter
Airports are strange places to meet. So many so different people run around there, that it is almost impossible not to discover anything that one would find somehow worthy of note, whether it be exotic dresses, dangerously large hard-shell cases, extraordinarily loud tirades in strange languages, or other little pieces that make up the large creature an airport is, which make it the exceptional place it is. Among these many jigsaw puzzle pieces there are light and dark ones, patterned, plain, large and small and dozens of others, and once I found one that just got out of line; how, this I cannot explain myself; one that had the charisma of a riddle and that immediately stroke my eye- his face.
Actually, he was dressed completely ordinarily: dark jeans, dark shirt and dark jacket. Dark brown, tousled hair, dark eyes, like coffee without milk. Dark, I can not describe it differently, was the effect his appearance had on me, and maybe that was the reason why I looked over to him so conspicuously inconspicuous for such a long time.
The first few minutes, in which this young man caught my eyes like a magnet, I thought feverishly, what could be the reason, for next to him there was a big African family in their best holiday mood waiting for their airline tickets and had just started to sing a happy song. It was probably his serious facial expression. No, it was this concentrated gaze towards nowhere, the look in his eyes that left no doubt that the thoughts in his head were not of this world.
He stood upright in the queue, and seemed in some way so unreal that I got goose bumps everywhere.
Do you know those movies where phantoms wander around unnoticed and unseen by humans? As I looked at him now, this young man, I had the feeling he was as a ghost and no one else could notice him. A fantastic and very uncomfortable thought; I looked carefully at all the people around us.
But indeed, I found that actually not a single pair of eyes fixed him in this way as mine, actually, no one was looking at him, no one at all. The African family was just singing too excitedly, that had to be the reason. Just like some people are simply not able to stop snacking out of biscuit tins, once they have started, I could not stop to look at him furtively. He didn’t notice it, fortunately- he did not move at all. He had a beautiful face with high cheekbones and a finely-cut nose.
"Your turn! Lord God, where are you with your thoughts? Already on vacation? ", someone said behind me, so stridently that I winced. An "I’m on it,” muttered I moved forward and laid my papers on the table and my bag on the scales for hand luggage, I did it clumsily, because I always looked around for my phantom man, for some reason I had fear he would just disappear. The woman behind me had snapped at me again. "Can you ever stay on task? You are done! "This time I allowed myself to tell her that it was not my problem if she had ants in her pants, and went away to stow away my ticket and my papers. Then I looked back to the queue next to me-he was no longer there, the charismatic stranger. I looked in all directions, but he wasn't to be seen anywhere. That made me a bit puzzled, it had been many other peoples’ turn before him- how could he have been ready faster than me? I was a little disappointed, why, I did not know. Basically, I would have only been able to stare at him a few minutes longer, no more. Then he would have been gone, in a plane, I in another one, and both on the road, possibly in opposite directions. This idea was brutal, I had had in mind to draw him, to try to capture that on paper what I had seen. How should this work without a picture that I could save in my mind for goodbye? A feeling like a missed train or an unfinished exam turned in; I set myself sullenly in motion to kill some of the time until departure, with a magazine and maybe a cup of coffee, it was still much too early in the morning.
Of course, the coffee shop was full to overflowing, a mob of over a dozen people cavorted in the too-small shop, rustled with bakery bags and newspapers, and tripped over dogs and suitcases of the other and it took just awfully long until the waiters handed the coffees, cappuccinos and Lattes over the counter, which didn’t particularly improve my mood in that moment. I could not help recalling an image of this face in my mind, or at least trying. What exactly attracted me so much it seemed like a spell? I was not sure, I just saw these eyes in front of me, they partook something of the deep sea, the kind of depth, where only these creepy-looking fish live, with glowing tentacles, where there reign silence, darkness and high pressure.
"Uh ... Excuse me? What do you want to order? "Damn, I missed out again that I was next on line. Incredible, what effect a five-minute sight could have on me, hopefully I was not the only person who reacted like this sometimes; whose fantasy and imagination painted such strange ornaments around ordinary things. It could also just be a song that made me fall in such daydreams, or a movie character, or a book, or a landscape, or a stay in a city whose atmosphere sparked something in me. Afterwards I could be totally incapacitated for hours- so much for my reaction ability, communication skills or simply for my mind. Just like now. I ordered a cappuccino and watched out for a free table; like all the others in the queue, I had no desire to drink while standing or waiting on a bench in the airport building.
A tiny table at the display case was still free, and as soon as I held the paper cup in my hand, I hurried towards it, causing a murmur from the other people waiting- they had all hoped to get there. Very well, I had noticed this grumbling, which meant I probably slowly came around. Nevertheless, I took my sketch pad out when I had set myself and made a feeble attempt to draw the stranger I saw earlier, but I just couldn’t reproduce an overall picture.
Something was always wrong; either the contour of the face or the neck was too long or too short, or anything else wrong with the proportions, or whatever-I just didn’t know it so well, myself. So I sat for like a quarter of an hour, deepened in restless scribbling, again erasing and pulling out of sheets, as I was asked, in English: "Excuse me, is the place still available? Everything else is already occupied." I lifted my head and winced. He was standing in front me, and the deep- sea eyes looked at me quizzically. "Uh," I stammered, "certainly, yes, please sit down..." He sat down and looked me over, and I pulled out the pencil. This time the picture would get finished.