Airports are weird things, there is an actual condition I read about… an airport psychosis loosely termed ‘airport wandering’ where people just walk round airports endlessly. Definitely something about airports; all those different paths, different lives, reunions and partings, endings and beginnings. I think by nature, humans like order and stability, maybe a crossroad of such magnitude will inevitably send us a little coo coo.
I found myself sitting on a plane next to an orthodox Jewish girl. At 17, she told me most of her friends were engaged already and was surprised to hear that at 28, I wasn’t married. I was curious to find out more about her world, what she wants from life and in the very near future, her husband. Sitting cross legged in my seat like a kid at a slumber party, I asked about the matchmaker; “So what will you ask her for?”
The girl looked back with doe eyed innocence “Someone who wants the same things as me.” And after a moment she thought again, “It’s also important that he looks good.”
“And smart too obviously?”
“Yes. Of course, smart too. And successful.”
Ah, if only it were that simple. I settled back in my chair, all this talk of matchmakers and marriage at barely pubescent ages was making my head spin. As fun as single life is, it’s difficult to get away from that voice in your head, (which always sounds like my mother) telling you that you should be out there looking for something worthwhile.
After the abysmal first date with Golden Boy where I ended up listing the Persian Kings we settled into a handy routine of booty calls. Every Friday around 2am I receive a charming heartfelt message that goes something like “you still up?!” and I will respond the following week with an equally romantic gesture of “I want you in my bed!!”
After getting to know him a bit better, I discovered that the aloofness I took for silent confidence is actually an utter absence of character, and the cheeky ever present smile is just there to make up for the fact he has no idea what I’m saying. One night sprawled out on my bed, twiddling his Californian beach boy hair, he picked up a copy of William Blake poems I have by my bed (fabulous procrastination tool.)
“Do you like William Blake?” I asked. Maybe there was a little hidden philosopher lurking behind those dull green eyes.
“Do you, like, read this stuff?”
“Sometimes,” I shrugged. “Want me to read you some?”
“Wow. You’re educating me.”
I smiled sympathetically and opened the book to my favourite poem. “This series is called Psalms of Hell.”
“OOOOh. Does that mean I’ll go to hell if I hear it?”
I closed the book. He didn’t deserve William Blake. Jumping back on the bed I admired just how perfect he was, the square jaw and cheekily pointed nose, big green eyes and just the right amount of muscle. He was Just So Pretty and right then, it didn’t matter that he had the intellectual scope of a plank of two by four. Golden Boy was like human junk food, good as long as you don’t stop to think about what’s inside.
As I waved him off at the door, fighting off the usual tinge of guilt at my own weakens, I wondered, is it so wrong to like someone for their looks? Sure, it’s shallow but is it any shallower than say liking someone for their charisma, charm, money or intelligence? And if any of those alone is shallow, how can all of them combined somehow make the stuff of fairytales?
I’d met ‘the artist’ last summer on holiday, waiting for a vodka cranberry at some artisan bar in a shabby area of Tel-Aviv. We had one of those incredible conversations that could go on all night, but only lasted until my cousin dragged me away at 4am. I was looking forward to meeting him again, wondered if away from the vodka cranberries I actually liked him and if the conversation was a one off. Perhaps, as a friend of mine said;
“When we meet someone new, we give them all our intelligence upfront, at the start. Then we just hold on to the hope that they’ll still love us once they realise that was our lot.”
I hoped not. I’d been surviving on cerebral junk food for months.
When I met him, I was pleasantly surprised that he had the same mischievous look in his eye he did a year ago, and though not what I would usually go for looks wise, I was definitely attracted.
The artist was one of those people that need to know everything, “I want all the answers” he told me, having only just asked in a surprised and shocked tone how I could possibly have never read Proust (mostly because the name alone is so f*cking pretentious). We lay on his bed chatting, he showed me some of his art; he was all about controversy; he told me of his plan to make a sculpture of foreskins (a comment on the practice of circumcision… or just a cry for attention, who knows.)
In the dim light of the minimally decorated room, with just the whir of the air conditioning to cushion the words, I read him my last blog post. He said it was ‘very sweet’ in the same sympathetic tone I reserved for Golden Boy when he said something especially stupid. I had never read any of the books by his bedside, most had been on my to- read list for years. I only know Levi Strauss from a boring essay I had to write at uni and couldn’t for the life of me hold a decent conversation on him or any other political thinker for that matter.
I went back again the next night, a part of me wanted to claw all the information right out of his head. But it was more than that, I wanted to know how he thought, I wanted to figure out how his mind worked. Sometimes I would turn away when he kissed me, my head full of more questions.
“Leevre Da le cuisaine” I read badly off the spine of a book.
He corrected me in a prefect French accent and I jumped on him.
I liked him as much when he was talking as I liked Golden Boy when he wasn’t.
Was that wrong?
Back on a plane and heading back to London I sat next to a young family with a screaming baby. The woman is about 23 with a modest head covering and a fed up look on her face. Perhaps life is something like an airport, with planes taking off in every direction, some people plan their journeys, they are linear unwavering and clear. Perhaps it would be ideal to find good looks, intelligence etc etc in one neat little bundle dropped off by a great big Jewish stork of a matchmaker. But until then, why not take many different planes going in different directions simultaneously?
A pretty face to look at, an interesting person to talk to and of course for everything else a bunch of amazing supportive friends.
Who says you can’t have it all?