turnipHed is the Chief Editor at TURNIPSTYLE, Presenter & Producer of THE VOICE OF TURNIPSTYLE. The lifestyle magazine and podcast for [GBTQ+] Men.
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I walked out of the airport, the air was heavy, the humidity high. I could see the mist hanging in the air and feel it on my face as I walked dragging my suitcase behind. It feels like I am pulling the airplane, the day has been long and my body is weary with fatigue.
I get a ride to the subway, we laugh, we chat, we smoke, we roll down the windows for some relief from the heat. None comes. Relief fails us.
We reach the subway station. I jump out, open the trunk and pull out my bags. The thick air grabs my body and pushes my uniform against my flesh, now moist with sweat. I say goodbye, close the trunk, knock two times and wave my hand in the air.
2 honks are my reply and then the flash of brake lights as my friend shifts into gear and drives off. Almost home.
I get on the subway, no relief here either, the doors are all open and the air conditioning is off. I continue to sweat.
I drag my suitcase down the line hoping to find an empty car. I am done with people for the day. I want to be alone.
No car is empty. I am left to decide which one has the “normal” people on it. I find a bench and flop down.
I grab my companion. My iPod. I find the last Harry Potter chapter I have been listening to and plug my ears in. I grab the paper and start to seperate myself from the rest of the world. My paper is my border.
I lose myself in the Soduko puzzle and time flies by. I only know that stations are passing as I lurch to my left as the brakes are applied with the finesse of a meteor hitting the atmosphere. My numbers are no longer neat but skewed and jagged.
I look up and one station left until I am home. My new home.
I stand up, grab my bag and maneuver my way through the tangle of legs and feet. People are oblivious to my attempts to avoid them. I manage not to gouge anyone. I have conquered.
I rise in the lift to the street. One block to go home. My new home.
Anxiety grips my gut, did I bring my keys? Do I have the right ones? What happens if I can’t get in?
I reach into my pocket. My flesh brushes against the warm metal. Ironically the warmth brings me relief.
I enter the building now drenched in my sweat, dripping in my eyes, into my ears, running down my back and across my legs.
I try to avoid the man walking his dog, but his dog is just a puppy and is curious so they linger.
We reach the elevator. I am forced to talk. I am too tired to lift my head to stare at the numbers flashing as we pass the floors. The failsafe ignore method of all elevator riders.
“So you work for an airline, hey?”
“No shit Sherlock! Can’t you see I am in uniform and the logo is everywhere….Yes I do.”
“So what is it like flying all over. That must be hard.”
“No you fucking twit it is easy, just like blinking and breathing. Your dog is fucking adorable….It is all part of the job. Some days are hard, some days are easy.”
A loud buzz. We have reached my floor. Relief.
“Good night” he says, “Take care of yourself and get a good rest.”
“Fuck he had to be a nice guy….Thanks you too and I will.”
Clack, clack clack. The wheels of my suitcase run across the tiles in front of the elevator and explode the silence of the hallway into a barrage of pollution.
I reach my door. The warm keys are in my pocket. I fish them out. It slides in. Click. It turns.
I am home. My new home.
It is hot. The air is thick with the smell of fresh paint. Fan, where is the fan. Need air.
Too many things I need to do. Get out of this uniform. Put leftovers in the fridge. Shower. Change. I try and do it all at once.
I put on shorts and a t-shirt. I grab my keys, still no cooler and head to the corner store.
I need milk. I am craving it. That cool thickness running across my tongue and down my throat settling in my stomach and filling me with comfort.
I set out into the hot heavy air again. I take a few steps and am covered again in sweat. I catch a whiff of the heavy perfume of the flowers from the gardens I pass. I flash back to my time in Africa and the hot heavy nights of air you could drink to quench your thirst and water that would only bring you disease.
It is cool and refreshing in the store. The man recognizes me and says, “Hello, welcome back!”
I grab my milk, a pack of smokes and make my way back home.
Must shower. Must cool.
I turn on the water, drop my clothes in the closet. The windows are bare and the city crawls into my apartment. I look out and my view is gone in the fog. The city is hidden. I am hidden.
The water is cool, refreshing. Here I find relief.
My head tingles as I lather the shampoo, my tensions slip away.
I don’t dry off, just get out and put my shorts on.
The moisture on my skin evaporates and turns back to sweat.
I grab the milk. Pour a glass. The first to quench the craving. The second to enjoy.
I walk to my suitcase on the floor and dissect the zipper to display the contents inside.
I purge the soiled and pile them in the closet corner.
It is now time to relax. To absorb. Home. My new home.
I grab a beer, the laptop and a smoke. I sit on the floor. The beer bottle against my knee.
It is frightfully cold and sends a pang of alarm up my leg and into my back.
I welcome it. Relief.
The fan continues to hum. It drones out the day. It numbs my mind, my thoughts, my senses.
It does not bring coolness. The air is far too hot. It just moves it.
It wraps my body. It hugs me close.
I am home. My new home.
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