Laying on the thinly carpeted cement floor of YVR I can feel each of my vertebrae against the cold as I inhale and exhale against the rising tide of irritability and anxiety. My flight home to Calgary is delayed, initially for thirty minutes, then for sixty. Then an additional sixty minutes. I check my iPhone for updates; it is 9:05pm PST. I re-scan the phone. Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, repeat. I do this in circles until I set the phone down and reach for my book. It is after 10pm. I read a handful of pages and pick up my phone and repeat the earlier mindless social media cycle. It is after 11pm. The flight delays continue and I lay on the floor, increasingly colder, increasingly unable to sit in patience.
Waiting at airports brings out the worst in me. Despite the years of being delayed, jetlagged, cancelled, rebooked, rerouted, lost baggage, lost in translation, I encounter each of these obstacles like a first time traveler. What do you mean my flight has been delayed? What do you mean we can’t land at Toronto Pearson? What do you mean the landing gear isn’t working?
The end of a long workday that was supposed to be a simple, easy in-and-out business trip instead finds me shivering against the cold cement of the floor while a spring rain pelts the windows. I long for my bed, I long for home. I long to drop the anxiety I feel when I am attached to my devises without pause in a long work block. Instead, I lift the phone up to my craned neck, angled against my large laptop bag as I take out and scroll again.
It’s after midnight and then it’s 1 am. New plane arrives to take us home. I wish I practiced more patience, given myself the freedom to power down on Friday night instead of compulsively check my phone at the airport. I switch to airport mode. I open my laptop. I write.
In a world of increasing connectivity I find myself longing for a disconnection. The ability to put space in my mind that comes from setting my phone down, from working through that which is in my own head, from feeling that I am both willing and able to power down. On a Friday night, in cold Vancouver, waiting for an airplane, I acknowledge I need a break. This is OK.
Soon, I promise myself. Soon.