Munich Airport is a blue airport, there is blue everywhere. The blue is a serious and efficient blue but also an ebullient blue, full of promise and optimism and reassurance, a blue that says, Everything will be on time, society is safe, planes become faster and faster and also burn cleaner and cleaner, our floors are bacteria-free, the sandwiches are fresh, only beautiful people fly, all destinations are beautiful, everybody is getting wealthier and taller, we are conquering our weaknesses, soon we will all travel to space together. The blue is numinous, full of depth, somehow both spiritual and electromagnetic. And it is contained by a sober gray that you almost do not notice, a gray that says, The blue is where you want to go, but I am how you will get there. It is a gray that does not change shades and that has no depth. I begin to see, through the dissipating thickness of fog and haze outside the window, that it is going to be a clear and marvelous, if frigid, day. It’s a shame there isn’t a way to get outside for a few minutes. It’s a shame there isn’t something like a prison yard, surrounded by high fences and barbed wire, guard towers, whatever it takes, in which travelers could be free to walk in circles, breathe the air, and get sun on their faces.
The nausea from hunger finally becomes acute pain in my stomach. I feel dulled and dizzy and sick. I stop and bend over, with my hands on my hips, and Trish and my father stop and wait. I must be sweating. I sense that I’ve begun to stink a little. You look green, says Trish. It’ll pass, I say. I mean really green, she says.
I realize that this is my opportunity to get away from them. I am not annoyed with them, I am merely exhausted, and want some solitude. I’ve got to go to the bathroom, I say.
We’ll wait here for you, she says.
No, go and try to find some seats, I’ll text you and find you when I’m out.
My father says nothing, but he takes his saggy leather carry-on from me. Trish immediately takes it from him and throws it over her shoulder.
Okay, says Trish to me, we’ll see if we can find something.
They are a hard-to-miss pair in a German airport, but in no time they are swallowed up by the crowds, and I lose them. I’ve grown so accustomed to the nausea caused by hunger that I no longer instinctively want to eat, or feel I should eat. I have learned, over the last few days, that if you can withstand the wave of pain that hunger causes, the nausea itself becomes a sort of nourishment, and the longer I can withstand the wave—especially if I can keep from getting sick—the more enriched I feel. During our second week here, we fattened ourselves like swine. We ate pork sausages and Bratkartoffeln and drank wheat beer for breakfast. In our car, as we drove around from old towns to forts to old cathedrals, we ate cakes and Danishes and ice cream, and played silly songs on the radio and talked with our mouths full. I bopped the steering wheel along to the music. My father splurged on a comfortable midsize Toyota Camry with automatic transmission.
It was black. I kept saying, apropos of nothing, This is one sweet ride, or, I love to drive. Once I threw the keys at a hotel bellhop, then shot him with my finger, like a cowboy. We ate pizza slices and cheeseburgers along the motorway. But now, here, in the airport, I realize that I am not going to be able to withstand the nausea and I need to throw up. I am perspiring now, all over, and I have stomach cramps, and I’ve gone very weak and hollow. I get my carry-on and roll it toward the bathroom. My father, smartly, packed his gigantic coat into his check-in luggage, but I didn’t notice this at the time or perhaps I thought my coat might come in useful, or maybe I was still just really cold, but now I have to wear it or carry it. I’m wearing a suit jacket, sweater, and a shirt already. The men’s room has a short line for the stalls, and also a long but swiftly moving line for the urinals. The two lines separate at the door, and every once in a while somebody comes in, bypasses both lines, realizes his mistake, and leaves.Thefloor of the place is a little wet and the trash of toilet paper and paper toilet-seat covers is strewn around a bit. It isn’t hideous or unexpected, but my nausea makes it difficult to bear. There is also the quake, the trembling hands and chattering teeth that flow out of a disagreeable emptiness that is nearly, I don’t know, not quite in your gut, but in your hips, and also your teeth and ears and feet. And the headache that stabs at the eyes and makes the top of your head tingle and prick, and that ibuprofen can do nothing about. I close my eyes. I try to concentrate on something that pleases me. A single memory of comfort and pacification.