Chapter 11 – Reagan And Newfoundland

11.

Vagabond

I started running, all over the apron of the airplane, for fear that they would catch me. But who could chase me? The pilot would never leave the plane. The stewardesses wore high-heeled shoes. But I didn’t look back; I ran. I ran, knowing that only by mixing with the crowd in the main airport waiting room would I dissolve in the eyes of those who could take me back.

As soon as I entered, I saw a seat of those positioned in a row so as not to make people stretch their legs at night. I sat there. The crowd was beginning to diminish. Some planes had already departed. Others were on the runway with passengers on board, like the one I was supposed to leave with.

Mentally and emotionally, I was exhausted. I did something I never imagined I would do. I had never seen myself so out of the ordinary. I don’t know how many passengers the plane had, but only I jumped off.

And now, what would I do?

Take a flight to New York?

I went to the ticket office, and they answered me unwillingly; if my plane could not go to New York, how could another local plane go there?

Rent a car?

At the rental desks, they told me:

“The cars are all rented. You should wait at least a week before the situation normalizes.”

I went to seek advice from those who smoked, but they were all gone. I returned to the airport, but by now, it was late, and I thought I would sleep there waiting to find a solution. 

As I sat with no idea what to do, it was starting to dark. I looked at the map of Canada and observed that I was in the very worst place at the worst time to travel to any destination. I was on an island with no flights, so I had to take a ferry to get to the mainland. The two ports where the ferries departed were more than 300 kilometers south. The railroad was non-existent, and the rental cars had run out. Taxis weren’t available for a four-hour ride, and I didn’t even dare ask the price.

At the suggestion of the information office, I found a notice board with bus timetables for St. John’s, the largest city on the island, four hours by bus, from there I could take another bus for two hours to Argentia, where the ferries departed. Towards North Sydney, the mainland in Nova Scotia.

There was also a larger airport at St. John’s where daily flights departed to various destinations. The bus left at five in the afternoon every day, so I would have to wait until the next day. I would have slept at the airport if it weren’t for they would close at ten in the evening.

All that remained was to go back to Reagan and ask her if I could sleep one more night with her. I would not have had the courage to return, but after jumping out of that airliner and about to leave, I felt like I had lost all my self-esteem. To think that Reagan was annoyed or told me no would change little. I had nothing to lose.

I left Italy as a person to whom almost nothing could be said except that I did not want to work, but that was another matter. At that moment, I found myself alone in a remote place, having to ask for help from a girl I recently knew, unemployed and with a couple of secrets that who knows what they were hiding. Returning to her was the only solution I had, but I realized that I didn’t even have her phone number and only knew her last name. 

As much as I thought I would never see her again, not even her phone or email I had asked, she had not asked me either, and this told me even more how important I was to her. I didn’t even have the address. I could find the house by walking there, but I wasn’t so sure, I could get lost at night. But I had no alternative. From what I could imagine, it must have been about five kilometres, an hour of walking. Finding the right path wasn’t easy.

I had a map of Gander from the tourist brochure from the information office. But I did not know the name of the street. I only remembered the places I had seen while driving and, of course, her house, but it was night, and all the houses in Gander were small villas with only the ground floor or mezzanine floor almost all the same.

First, I decided to go and eat at McDonald’s near Walmart; it was easy to get there. James Boulevard, right at the intersection with Garrett drive and left at Roe Avenue, passed in front of the restaurant where we had lunch on the first day. Rosie’s continued to Scotiabank. From there, McDonald’s was easy to find, and everything was fine.

While I ate, I looked at the map and tried to plan the route. I remembered that from Walmart, we took the extra-urban road I identified on the map as Cooper boulevard, then turned right into a street leading to the elementary school. There was the area where she lived. I would find the house by walking around a bit when I got there. When I got there, I was tired. I walked to McDonald’s for over half an hour and another 45 minutes to get to the elementary school area. There I had to walk around the houses for a while. The streets were all similar too. 

All well ordered so as not to leave something strange to be remembered. But some houses had campers or caravans parked in their garden, and I remembered those well. I found a caravan which was placed well was an Airstream, the shiny aluminum ones famous because the inventor had taken the idea from aeroplane fuselages. The trailer was on the same street, so I finally found the house after two hours of walking. 

I waited a moment before approaching. I looked to see if the white Toyota Corolla was parked to see if she was home and whether the lights were on. I sat down on the sidewalk, stopped to catch my breath, and found the courage to introduce myself again there. I did not have good feelings. I felt like an aimless wanderer who would knock on a stranger. I only knew how to identify myself in this way. The wanderer, for me, has always been a positive figure, but now that I was in the role of a wanderer, I felt without identity.

I stopped thinking, got up and headed for Reagan’s house. When I got to the door, I knocked, and nobody opened it.

I thought: Of course, she won’t answer the door at this hour. Adding to that, I didn’t know anyone else here in Gander.

I knocked again, and this time she opened it immediately, as if she was already behind the door. She looked at me with wide eyes. I expected her to say:

“You again? What do you want?”

Instead, she said nothing to me. She hugged me tightly, and she put her head on my chest, and she told me:

“I missed you!”

A tear ran down her cheek, and she wiped it away immediately so as not to be seen. I had gone from a wanderer to finding myself a home where I was wanted. We hugged for a while, and then she said to me:

“Come on, come in!” And she closed the door.

For three days, she had said nothing to me, not even a signal, a behavior that could make me understand that she enjoyed my company. I was gone for ten hours, and everything had changed. What logic could it have? Was being away ten hours knowing I would never come back, worth ten years of absence? One thing for Einstein to study on the relativity of time! 

In any case, both with Einstein and with her, I did not understand anything, and I was tired of imagining if I wanted to stay there and try to understand the logic, much less explain to me what had happened. 

I would have told her the next day, and I was ready to do it. But was she expecting an explanation? I didn’t think so, at least at that moment. It felt like I came back for her.

This new situation made me feel better. Her embrace was consoling. I couldn’t ask for more at the time. The next day I would have explained everything to her if she wanted it, but at that moment, I took the positive things that the situation gave me, and I tried not to overthink what had happened during the day.

After an hour that I had arrived, I asked her if I could go to sleep in my pajamas or, instead, if her tracksuit that I used as pajamas was still where I had left it. I went to the bathroom, and my toothbrush was still there, as if she knew I had to back. We lay down on the bed under the covers without saying anything, hugging each other in the same direction. I could feel her warm warmth, but I couldn’t help thinking about what had happened to me that day and what I would tell her the next day and how I would continue my journey. 

Sleeping in that bed and embracing her was regenerating for me and was just what I needed. We slept all night without ever waking up.

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Chapter 10 – Reagan And Newfoundland

10.

I no longer believed anyone

We told each other that we had slept well when we woke up. But we had to hurry as the situation at the airport was going to be a bit chaotic. Indeed, it was. It was not an airport used to boarding 36 planes a day for a total of 6,700 people. There were logistical problems, slowly but steadily everything was going on.

After a couple of hours of waiting, we also met the smoker Spaniard and a guy who complained that he wanted to leave the airport by himself, but they won’t let him take his bags. Usual problems that exist in airports. Anyway, the time had come. I just had to reach the plane on foot, crossing the parking lot through the other aircraft. 

It was time to say goodbye to Reagan, I didn’t know what to do, and I don’t think she had any idea. Say hello to a relative, a friend, see you. I’ll be back soon. One other person just says hi. But a person you’ve known for 2.5 days, but who slept 3 nights together, who ate and spent the last 2.5 days together, what do you say? Simply thank you and bye. We hugged, and I left. But that hug had been a bit stronger than usual, maybe it meant something, but definitely not. I knew she had no interest in me.

So, chapter closed, I’m going to New York. Goodbye, Reagan!

I climbed the ladder and sat in my seat when I got to the plane. The seats were half empty, including Rudolf’s seat next to me; he had driven to New York, but the others? The others were arriving slowly, and the plane was filling up. I could be comfortable having two seats. It was scorching, 25 degrees outside, and the air conditioning was still off. A group of people waited at the foot of the ladder as if everything was not ready. Then I went down too. A couple were also smoking. And I asked:

“Why don’t you go up?” 

“From what the captain said, things are not that simple. It is not yet known whether it is possible to fly to New York, and the pilot is considering returning to Rome.”

After a while, they asked to take the seats. Onboarding, a passenger asked the stewardess who presided over the entrance door:

“Where do we go?”

“New York! New York!” She answered.

Ok, I felt reassured. I sat in my place and tried to rest, closing my eyes. I thought:

No! I don’t want to go back to Rome! I’ll take another flight to New York if they take me to Rome.

Meanwhile, the time passed was an hour and a half since I sat the second time in my seat. The other passengers had also begun to get nervous. The pilot occasionally communicated that they were waiting for permission to move us to the runway, but that they first needed to be allowed to fly to New York. After two or three times the same service announcements, the pilot very patiently tries to explain the situation to us:

“The air traffic controllers in Rome have given us the go-ahead to fly to New York. Rome had been given the go-ahead by the Newark air traffic controllers, but Gander’s air traffic controllers did not give us the ok to fly to New York / Newark. We have to wait until Gander gets this information from New York too. Sooner or later, it will be possible to fly to New York. The information must also be updated to Gander.”

So, it was only a matter of time. Within 3 hours of departure, I would be in New York! I had almost dozed off; it had been two hours since I sat at my post. Suddenly the pilot, with an annoyed air, opened the microphone with a blow and said:

“The information is still conflicting, and we cannot wait any longer. The concordant information is that we can fly to Rome. So now is the time to change the route to Rome and ask for authorization for take-off. We leave for Rome.”

As soon as I heard “Let’s leave for Rome”, I woke up suddenly and exclaimed!

“No!”

The lady next to me looked at me; from the expression on her face and her hands spread to show the palms, she meant:

There’s nothing we can do about it!

All the passengers were heartbroken by the waiting days and the last few hours on the plane in the heat. They were willing to do anything to get out of there. Resign yourself to return to Rome.

The light could still be seen from the entrance door, so it was open. I knew I had to stay seated, but that was another thing. We weren’t sitting waiting to leave on a routine flight. The rules were skipped. I got to my feet and ran to the hatch, hoping the ladder was in place. In the corridor, a stewardess tried to stop me and said:

“You have to stay seated!”

I avoided it by moving her arm. I reached the hatch, and another blocked my way. I managed to pass, but she clung to my arm and asked me to go back inside, trying to calm down, and asked me:

“Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t want to go to Rome!”

“You’ll get a new flight to New York as soon as we arrive in Rome.” This calmed me down a bit, but I didn’t trust it. By now, I no longer believed anyone!

Meanwhile, the other stewardess had already called the pilot, who, with his jacket with grades and hat, showed himself to be an authority. On the other hand, I was a wretch with my feet on a couple of steps on the ladder and my arm held in both hands by a stewardess. The captain told me:

“I have the authority to keep you on the plane and order you to take your seat!”

“I’m no longer on his plane, and you can return to Rome even without me!”

“We cannot travel with baggage other than passengers on board!”

I knew they had lost their minds when he said this baggage thing.

“Go fuck yourself and my luggage!”

I pulled with all my strength, my arm still in the stewardess’s hands. I ran down the ladder screaming:
“On the contrary, I don’t wanna come anymore!”

Chapter 9 – Reagan And Newfoundland

9.

The Kodak

My hands were on my side when I woke up. It was morning.

Everything okay! The night had gone well!  

She was in the kitchen or bathroom and had been awake for a while. It was ten o’clock, the time zone or perhaps the night’s events had confused me a little.

As soon as she saw me, she asked me if I had slept well. To guard myself, I said:

“Yes! I have slept all night. All night at once without ever waking up!” 

So if something went wrong with my hands, I would have let it be assumed that I had done it unconsciously. 

It was because of her hands, not mine, if something was wrong. I had always been in my place. She was the one who had hit me in the face! I wanted that to be clear, but I couldn’t tell it.

She replied:

“I have too slept without ever waking up!”

This left me doubtless that she, too, had taken precautions. So, I was sure nothing embarrassing had happened.

In the late morning, we had to go back to the airport to see if we could leave. We could also watch TV to check the situation in New York, but we just forgot about it. I was sure it was the day to leave, and Reagan wasn’t the type of girl who watched the news on TV.

At the airport, the situation had not changed. The same crowd was present as if no one had not gone to sleep, but I did not believe it would be so.

While looking for the information office, I met Rudolf the Austrian, who told me that according to him, it was not the day to leave, and it would take a long time, who knows how long. He was planning to rent a car and drive to New York. We were on an island, and he would take a ferry. Rudolf solved one problem at a time. He was looking for the means to move from there. I wasn’t that pessimistic and hoped that the day would be the next if it wasn’t that. I said goodbye, and we kept looking for the information office or something like that for more news.

I found a desk where there were people in service staff vests and asked about the situation and when we could leave. A middle-aged lady, proud that she was in that place, was very busy with her work. She replied with a look as if I had asked her something out of place or as if I was joking, or I don’t know what.

What questions should these service workers have to answer? Everyone there wanted to leave. What other information would they need? When I saw the lady with that face, I immediately turned around and said to Reagan:

“Come on, I know another place where they have more fresh information”, and we went to look for those who smoked.

The same girl who spoke Spanish was still there in the smoking area as if nothing had changed from the day before, throwing her cigarette. She told me:

“Haven’t you seen television? American skies are still closed to air traffic. We can’t move from here for now. They will update us tomorrow, day by day.” 

“What do we do here now? It’s better to go away. There are too many people here,” 

I asked Reagan what she should do, and if I was bothering her, I felt like I was changing her plans. She told me she had nothing to do. She had been fired a few days ago and had no commitments these days. So, I asked her if we could go and buy some clothes and other essentials since I didn’t have my bags with me. I planned on going to Walmart.

I was surprised that there was a Walmart in Gander too. Before going there, we stopped to eat. It was 1.30pm. It was a restaurant on Roe Avenue called Rosie’s Restaurants & Bakery, a small one-story prefab house. The interior was pleasant enough, furnished in light wood with light-colored chairs and tables, which purposely recalled an old style. Almost everything on the menu was based on fried food, which is challenging to eat daily. But that already made me feel like I was in America.

The counter where the order was being taken had a very simple family atmosphere. We ordered something Reagan already knew at the counter. We sat at a four-seater table even though only the two were there. A parapet of dark wood protected us from the sun by a large window. We were also separated from the main room.

During lunch, we discussed the strangeness of this situation and that it had never happened that you could not travel by plane. And she asked me if I travel a lot and I said no, it was the first time I had come to America, but she too had never been to Europe and didn’t even know it well. She did not even know the names of the countries, only the 4 or 5 most famous. Her world center was America, and all the rest were accessory nations. The rest of the world didn’t influence her life. 

She also asked me what work I did. When I replied yes, that I was not working, I was not looking for a job, and I was not rich, I thought she lost interest in what I did, or perhaps it seemed that I did not want to talk about myself or that I was hiding something, but it was not so. Then I asked her because she didn’t work. 

She replied that until the previous week, she worked in a commercial company that sold lumber; then, once entering the office, she had seen the daughter of the owner in a compromising position private with the director and the director fired her on the spot to cover himself from the other employees and perhaps even more with the owner. 

I felt difficult because she told me this thing with a lot of sincerity; instead, I had little to tell, and maybe even worse, it seemed that I was hiding my private life. I felt better when she said she felt a bit foreign because she had moved there a few months ago. She was initially from St. John’s, the largest city on this island, located further south.

She had moved there for family reasons that she could not tell me. What she could not tell me relieved me of the guilt that I was hinting at, not wanting to talk about myself. But I also wondered why I was having all these problems if I wouldn’t see this Reagan girl the next day. Did sleeping in the same house on the same bed and having to stay together until this problem was resolved to make me feel like a partner somehow? In fact, there were no signs we were alone on our way. I think the stereotypes we have in mind don’t predict this situation. They don’t foresee having to live as a couple without being one. Feelings come out as a couple, but another signal says, “Wrong! Wrong!”

After we ate, we went to Walmart and bought a toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel, and deodorant. In the clothing department, I wanted to get a t-shirt or a pair of pants, so I could take off the ones I had on for the last two days. The style was not quite what I wanted, but I would have adapted. But everything I tried, Reagan said okay or not okay, and my tastes weren’t like hers, but I got something she enjoyed more than me. But how important could it be that she chose a t-shirt and jeans for someone she had been seeing for only two days? I didn’t insist. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be out of it if I didn’t take what she said as she said.

In the evening, we continued talking, and she told me about her, but every now and then, she told me she didn’t know me so well to share her secrets. She certainly had two things she couldn’t tell me. The mystery was why she moved to Gander due to her family problems. I thought:

She is getting a divorce and hiding from her Ex, or just wanting a change of scenery after the divorce. But it didn’t seem like that.

When she talked about the secret, one did not give me the impression that she was talking about old loves or loves in general; perhaps she was not a Latin character and could detach herself from herself when she spoke about herself, but it didn’t seem like that.

I didn’t even understand what it was about the second secret. But I didn’t care that much. I was leaving the next day. Reagan was just an exciting person, like many I had met.

I felt too simple. I had no secrets. The most exciting thing I could say was that there was no specific idea why I was going to New York. Another was that I didn’t work, didn’t have a job, and didn’t need a job. I don’t know if these things interested her or if she was indifferent to these things. Or perhaps she thought I was hiding my profession and why I was going to New York.

Maybe I was from the Secret Service, or perhaps I was running away from someone or something. But I understood that these things were irrelevant to her, maybe because I was leaving the next day. But then, why keep the two secrets from me? Maybe because people don’t think a lot, they do and say things as they usually do, and they don’t calculate what and how to say something to one person or another in a situation.

While preparing dinner, I noticed that she was paying close attention to what she was doing. She paid close attention to the cutlery and glasses, how she put them on and whether she or I had used them. This will also be her way of doing it. People do things as they always have. I’m at her house, which seemed strange to me, but maybe it should be like that. Then, later on, we got ready for bed. 
I also noticed that we focused on separating all the things we used in the bathroom. But not to sleep! We slept on the same bed, leaving the sofa for Tiffany. We slept the same way in the bed, with the sheet and blanket as safety barriers. Even though we had spent all day together as a couple, the distances between us had not changed, and there were no signs of a change. We both lived on what to do according to the news from the airport. I fell asleep like the night before, thinking I would go to New York the next day. What she dreamt of; I had no idea.

Chapter 8 – Reagan And Newfoundland

8.

Wrong! Wrong!

My hands were on my side when I woke up. It was morning.

Everything okay! The night had gone well!  

She was in the kitchen or bathroom and had been awake for a while. It was ten o’clock, the time zone or perhaps the night’s events had confused me a little.

As soon as she saw me, she asked me if I had slept well. To guard myself, I said:

“Yes! I have slept all night. All night at once without ever waking up!” 

So if something went wrong with my hands, I would have let it be assumed that I had done it unconsciously. 

It was because of her hands, not mine, if something was wrong. I had always been in my place. She was the one who had hit me in the face! I wanted that to be clear, but I couldn’t tell it.

She replied:

“I have too slept without ever waking up!”

This left me doubtless that she, too, had taken precautions. So, I was sure nothing embarrassing had happened.

In the late morning, we had to go back to the airport to see if we could leave. We could also watch TV to check the situation in New York, but we just forgot about it. I was sure it was the day to leave, and Reagan wasn’t the type of girl who watched the news on TV.

At the airport, the situation had not changed. The same crowd was present as if no one had not gone to sleep, but I did not believe it would be so.

While looking for the information office, I met Rudolf the Austrian, who told me that according to him, it was not the day to leave, and it would take a long time, who knows how long. He was planning to rent a car and drive to New York. We were on an island, and he would take a ferry. Rudolf solved one problem at a time. He was looking for the means to move from there. I wasn’t that pessimistic and hoped that the day would be the next if it wasn’t that. I said goodbye, and we kept looking for the information office or something like that for more news.

I found a desk where there were people in service staff vests and asked about the situation and when we could leave. A middle-aged lady, proud that she was in that place, was very busy with her work. She replied with a look as if I had asked her something out of place or as if I was joking, or I don’t know what.

What questions should these service workers have to answer? Everyone there wanted to leave. What other information would they need? When I saw the lady with that face, I immediately turned around and said to Reagan:

“Come on, I know another place where they have more fresh information”, and we went to look for those who smoked.

The same girl who spoke Spanish was still there in the smoking area as if nothing had changed from the day before, throwing her cigarette. She told me:

“Haven’t you seen television? American skies are still closed to air traffic. We can’t move from here for now. They will update us tomorrow, day by day.” 

“What do we do here now? It’s better to go away. There are too many people here,” 

I asked Reagan what she should do, and if I was bothering her, I felt like I was changing her plans. She told me she had nothing to do. She had been fired a few days ago and had no commitments these days. So, I asked her if we could go and buy some clothes and other essentials since I didn’t have my bags with me. I planned on going to Walmart.

I was surprised that there was a Walmart in Gander too. Before going there, we stopped to eat. It was 1.30pm. It was a restaurant on Roe Avenue called Rosie’s Restaurants & Bakery, a small one-story prefab house. The interior was pleasant enough, furnished in light wood with light-colored chairs and tables, which purposely recalled an old style. Almost everything on the menu was based on fried food, which is challenging to eat daily. But that already made me feel like I was in America.

The counter where the order was being taken had a very simple family atmosphere. We ordered something Reagan already knew at the counter. We sat at a four-seater table even though only the two were there. A parapet of dark wood protected us from the sun by a large window. We were also separated from the main room.

During lunch, we discussed the strangeness of this situation and that it had never happened that you could not travel by plane. And she asked me if I travel a lot and I said no, it was the first time I had come to America, but she too had never been to Europe and didn’t even know it well. She did not even know the names of the countries, only the 4 or 5 most famous. Her world center was America, and all the rest were accessory nations. The rest of the world didn’t influence her life. 

She also asked me what work I did. When I replied yes, that I was not working, I was not looking for a job, and I was not rich, I thought she lost interest in what I did, or perhaps it seemed that I did not want to talk about myself or that I was hiding something, but it was not so. Then I asked her because she didn’t work. 

She replied that until the previous week, she worked in a commercial company that sold lumber; then, once entering the office, she had seen the daughter of the owner in a compromising position private with the director and the director fired her on the spot to cover himself from the other employees and perhaps even more with the owner. 

I felt difficult because she told me this thing with a lot of sincerity; instead, I had little to tell, and maybe even worse, it seemed that I was hiding my private life. I felt better when she said she felt a bit foreign because she had moved there a few months ago. She was initially from St. John’s, the largest city on this island, located further south.

She had moved there for family reasons that she could not tell me. What she could not tell me relieved me of the guilt that I was hinting at, not wanting to talk about myself. But I also wondered why I was having all these problems if I wouldn’t see this Reagan girl the next day. Did sleeping in the same house on the same bed and having to stay together until this problem was resolved to make me feel like a partner somehow? In fact, there were no signs we were alone on our way. I think the stereotypes we have in mind don’t predict this situation. They don’t foresee having to live as a couple without being one. Feelings come out as a couple, but another signal says, “Wrong! Wrong!”

After we ate, we went to Walmart and bought a toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel, and deodorant. In the clothing department, I wanted to get a t-shirt or a pair of pants, so I could take off the ones I had on for the last two days. The style was not quite what I wanted, but I would have adapted. But everything I tried, Reagan said okay or not okay, and my tastes weren’t like hers, but I got something she enjoyed more than me. But how important could it be that she chose a t-shirt and jeans for someone she had been seeing for only two days? I didn’t insist. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be out of it if I didn’t take what she said as she said.

In the evening, we continued talking, and she told me about her, but every now and then, she told me she didn’t know me so well to share her secrets. She certainly had two things she couldn’t tell me. The mystery was why she moved to Gander due to her family problems. I thought:

She is getting a divorce and hiding from her Ex, or just wanting a change of scenery after the divorce. But it didn’t seem like that.

When she talked about the secret, one did not give me the impression that she was talking about old loves or loves in general; perhaps she was not a Latin character and could detach herself from herself when she spoke about herself, but it didn’t seem like that.

I didn’t even understand what it was about the second secret. But I didn’t care that much. I was leaving the next day. Reagan was just an exciting person, like many I had met.

I felt too simple. I had no secrets. The most exciting thing I could say was that there was no specific idea why I was going to New York. Another was that I didn’t work, didn’t have a job, and didn’t need a job. I don’t know if these things interested her or if she was indifferent to these things. Or perhaps she thought I was hiding my profession and why I was going to New York.

Maybe I was from the Secret Service, or perhaps I was running away from someone or something. But I understood that these things were irrelevant to her, maybe because I was leaving the next day. But then, why keep the two secrets from me? Maybe because people don’t think a lot, they do and say things as they usually do, and they don’t calculate what and how to say something to one person or another in a situation.

While preparing dinner, I noticed that she was paying close attention to what she was doing. She paid close attention to the cutlery and glasses, how she put them on and whether she or I had used them. This will also be her way of doing it. People do things as they always have. I’m at her house, which seemed strange to me, but maybe it should be like that. Then, later on, we got ready for bed. 
I also noticed that we focused on separating all the things we used in the bathroom. But not to sleep! We slept on the same bed, leaving the sofa for Tiffany. We slept the same way in the bed, with the sheet and blanket as safety barriers. Even though we had spent all day together as a couple, the distances between us had not changed, and there were no signs of a change. We both lived on what to do according to the news from the airport. I fell asleep like the night before, thinking I would go to New York the next day. What she dreamt of; I had no idea.

Chapter 7 – Reagan And Newfoundland

7.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The waiting room began to empty. It was already evening. Many had already obtained accommodation. My name was then called by the loudspeaker. It was my turn to receive the overnight accommodation. The person pointed at a girl with his hand and motioned for me to follow her. I walked towards her, when I got in front of her, she introduced herself.

“Reagan.” Then she turned and started walking towards the exit, and I followed her. 

I was surprised because she didn’t tell me more than her last name. Nothing was mentioned about where I would sleep, if in a hotel, gym or who knows where.

We drove to what was supposed to be her car, a white 1980s Toyota Corolla, well maintained both inside and out. I got on the passenger side; she was already in the driver’s seat. Without saying anything, she began to drive safely, she knew the streets of Gander well, but I didn’t. I didn’t even know where we were going. She remained silent as if everything was clear. After two or three left turns and two or three, or so, right turns, we parked at the edge of a street in a residential area that perhaps once had more consideration but was now a little decayed. As the years went by, the houses had aged, and maintenance was evidently insufficient.

She then went to the door of the house at the edge of the sidewalk. She went up the four steps and found herself level with the door. She opened it, and a little dog screamed, jumped on her, and then she turned around. She expected me to be there, but I was still sitting in the car. Not seeing any structure that could accommodate people for the night, I thought it was an intermediate stop. She was so sure I would have followed her out of the car that she even locked it with the remote key.

When she realized I was still in the car, she looked at me, came towards me and waved me to get out.

Okay, now I understand I have to sleep in this house! 

Not even tell me, let alone expect them to ask me. We are in an emergency!

As soon as she closed the door of her house, the poodle who had been partying with her wasn’t so friendly to me, he barked at me all the time, he didn’t know me, but maybe he wasn’t even used to meeting foreigners.

She was not a girl to get anyone’s attention. She had a simple appearance and also excellent aesthetic features, but nothing excessive. The thing that immediately came to my eye as soon as I entered the house was the furniture. Everything was based on squirrels; everything possible was drawn by squirrels from the walls to the knick-knacks. There was no doubt that it was her favorite animal.

When she realized that I didn’t know anything about where I should sleep, she began to explain to me that I would sleep with her. In the meantime, she made me tea, served in squirrel-themed mugs. I looked around and saw that we were in a simple one-bedroom apartment with a simple living room and bedroom. I didn’t dare ask where I would sleep.

She told me that she had responded to the announcement of a bed request, and she had a seat, so being a single traveler, I was assigned her seat, which she made available to me.

I had to sleep there, but where? On the couch? Was the sofa my sleeping place? Not that I disdain couches. I slept on a bench the previous night at Rome airport, but it would have been nice if she had a bed. She had to have at least one bed. Finally, yes, the sleeping place was the sofa! 

Perhaps the only one of the passengers of the 36 planes to end up on a sofa.

Since I had nothing with me, no bag, no pajamas or anything, it was easy to go to sleep, just lie down. Reagan locked herself in her room. She felt safer since she had a stranger in the house. I took off my shoes and lay under an old blanket on the sofa. I turned off the lamp on the small table beside the couch. A light strip illuminated the floor from the crack between the door and the floor of Reagan’s room. Tiffany, the little dog, sat beside the door as if sleeping. I fell asleep without knowing how long that light had been on or if it had stayed on all night.

I knew immediately when she turned it off because I was awakened by Tiffany barking like hell, and the light had been turned off. Tiffany had waited for that light to go out to bark. He barked non-stop, but Reagan stayed, perhaps trying to get Tiffany to stop after a while. 

When Reagan opened the door, Tiffany ran around the living room to avoid getting caught. Then he stopped in front of the sofa and started barking at me as if I were the unusual object in the house. Reagan tried to force him to enter her room, but they were locked inside for a while. Tiffany kept barking. Reagan reopened the door, and Tiffany ran again to bark at me. I was still the unwanted object. It was not going well; I thought it would put me out the door to sleep on a bench in the street.

Reagan, in her pajamas with squirrel designs, made some space on the sofa where I was lying, sat down and said to me:

“You know this sofa is Tiffany’s place. She always slept here.”

Tiffany’s name was undoubtedly taken from the book “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” where the protagonist was Holly Golightly, a picky girl. An apt name!

Here now, I just have to sleep outside. I thought. Reagan smiled at me: 

“I think you could sleep somewhere else.” She asked me if I could get up from there. 

“You come.” I went into her room, and I realized that she had only one bed, a square and a half but still narrow for two people and above all that, we had known each other for only a couple of hours. I only knew her surname! There was not much space around the bed either.

“Do you mind sleeping in my bed? But not under the covers, on top, then you cover yourself with the blanket that you had on the sofa before.” 

“All right!” I replied.

She happily entered the living room, but did not turn off the light. As soon as I left, I turned off the light and lay in bed. Soon after, she came back and said to me:

“Now Tiffany will fall asleep.”

“Okay, she was back to inform me, really nice,” I thought. Since she would have slept on the sofa. But no! She had chosen to sleep beside me on the bed than on the couch with Tiffany.

She slept under the sheet and the blanket, and I was on the side above the blanket of the bed so that the sheet and the blanket acted as a dividing barrier.

The previous night I had slept on a row of armchairs at the Rome airport with a visit from a thief. Now I am in bed with a beautiful girl whose last name I only knew. I didn’t often have this type of meeting; I wasn’t used to it. I was used to the first type of encounter, a thief on a bench, rather than a girl in bed. 

She wasn’t a supermodel, but the girl in my bed was peculiar. If you really want to know, she was not a pretty girl but a minimalist and did not pretend to be beautiful. She had two elegant things, skinny brows and long lashes, but I never asked her how she made them grow so long.

Smelling her scent worried me because she might smell my stench since I had been traveling without proper accommodation for a few days. But after all, I was in a bed; given the situation, it was to be satisfied and to thank myself and this stranger. Tomorrow I would not have seen her again if we had left as we all hoped. So, why did I care if she smelled my stench? I fell asleep thinking that the next day I would see New York.

Sometime in the night, I woke up, hit by something hard that hit me on the brow bone.

What the hell is that! I exclaimed.

It had been a good blow, and a thought came back to me that had occurred to me just before falling asleep.

And if this one has a boyfriend, and he finds me in her bed, what can we tell him?

Well, that damn blow at first made me see her boyfriend there in person, standing in front of me, but thank God it was only half a dream. Instead, she had given me that tremendous blow, reaching her long hand upward, dropping it on my face with dead weight and hitting me right on the eyebrow with the knuckles of her fingers. It had been a good blow that if a stranger gives it to you, you report it directly. And indeed, she was a semi-unknown, but it was not really the case to say. What made me feel the blow the most was that I did not expect it. 

I was not prepared to take the blow, but I remained motionless because I did not immediately understand what it was. As soon as the intense pain, the sense of panic and discomfort, I took the reins of reason and did not move. I should have removed her hand from my face, but she was asleep, I could feel it from her breath, and if she woke up while I took her hand, it sure would not be a good scene. So, I did it one step at a time. I took her hand with my two fingers and checked that her breathing was steady. Ascertained, I lifted her hand from my face and waited again, checking her breathing.

Okay, she is asleep.

I could move her hand on her side. But as soon as her hands were raised, and they crossed the border that divided our parts of the bed, she jerked and pressed my hand to her side as if it were I who moved my hand towards her, and she had intercepted it and crushed on her side to stop it. I frightened myself, thinking:

Now, this is it, and she will believe that I have invaded her part. I’m done now, chasing me out of the house! 

But the fear passed. She didn’t move, and nothing. My hand was on her side and hers on mine. I didn’t move expecting an idea, an involuntary but decisive solution. What reassured me was that her breathing made me feel sure she was asleep. Waiting for this moment of action or self-resolution, I fell asleep unintentionally, and how it ended, I never knew.

Chapter 6 – Reagan And Newfoundland

6.

To Smoke

The plane, after landing, traveled a short distance up to the airport facilities, which reassured me that I would finally see some buildings.

Here we are! I thought.

I’ll see the New York airport soon! Not really New York because we had arrived in Newark in New Jersey, close to New York, but they were just details.

We waited for them to drop us off, but time passed, and they told us to wait. People started making calls on their phones and there was a shout of people talking fast. I didn’t understand anything, but they were all agitated.

Why don’t they let us down? It was the question of the moment.

Rudolf, still sleeping like a wild buffalo!

I tried to look out the windows, and from one of them, I could see the word Gander and, from another, a Canadian flag.

I wondered if it was one of the hubs of the great Newark airport called Gander, and at the airport, there were all the nations’ flags, and I only saw the Canadian one. 

After several hours of waiting, we were told we could get off. The first surprise was not the tunnel that took us inside the hub, but the classic ladder to go down to the square. As soon as I walked out the door of the plane, I looked around and exclaimed:

“No! No! No! It is not possible!” We were really in the middle of a forest, and the place was called Gander, and it was Canada. There were only Canadian flags.

“What the hell are we doing here?”

We were not in danger; indeed, the place gave a certain tranquility, surrounded by nature.

Like the others, I headed to the airport facility to await the recovery of the suitcases. But they told us that our plane was grounded, like all the other planes that had arrived and were arriving in the meantime. There was a sea of people, I don’t know how many, but too many for that small airport. I tried to ask why we were there, but everyone was busy.

Something had happened from what I saw on a TV in the airport security office. Everyone was watching that TV that the police watched to pass the time, and I think before we got there, they had a lot, a lot of time. 

From what little I saw on that TV, there were missiles hitting skyscrapers, and then the towers fell as if they had been shot down.

They thought it was an advertisement, but instead, that was the news of the moment. Two pilots near me said it was impossible. The fact is that those skyscrapers were in New York and that we could not fly to New York for no one knows how long, maybe a few hours or days.

But the most disturbing thing was that we could not take our suitcases because the planes were under seizure.

Skyscrapers fell thousands of kilometers away, and the problem is our suitcases!

But at that moment I also had another problem. What could we do in this tiny airport?

I hoped that at least there had been a city outside. It was three in the afternoon, and I didn’t think all those people could sleep there. I was hoping they had a plan for what we were supposed to do.

I began to wander around those rooms of that small airport, and between billboards and tourist brochures, I received the confirmation that we were in Canada, but not on the mainland of Canada; instead, we were on a Canadian island. 

A lovely big island, but compared to New York, it was uninhabited. That it was big was not good news because there would have been a greater density if it had been small. Given our longitude, it was not difficult to think that this area was full of forests and empty of people. From what I could tell from the information, the province was called Newfoundland and Labrador. We were in Newfoundland, and it was an island.

In Italian, Terra nova was called this because it was probably one of the first lands discovered in America. The Vikings had already been there several centuries before Columbus discovered America. The town was called Gander, like the airport, and had about five thousand inhabitants. 

In the past, this airport was used as a stopover airport for planes making transatlantic flights, and at that time, they did not have enough autonomy. So, this airport was huge for the size of the country. And how many hotels? Two! Yup! Two!

We arrived in a town of 5,000 inhabitants. There are 36 planes for a total of 6,700 people; where will they stay there?

This was my question of the moment and the question of everyone at the airport. We were in a place where we didn’t even have chairs to sit on. Later came the news that, at least for this night, we had to sleep over in Gander. The municipality had alerted all the authorities and volunteers. They organized to find places to sleep in hotels and structures such as gyms and churches, where they could equip beds. Private individuals with available beds would also participate.

I couldn’t find out more from the intelligence officers. As was often the case, when information was limited, I went to those who smoked.

When there are many people, there is always a small group of smokers. They have time to talk. You can ask them twice and have time to reflect and ask for more information. They always know everything, and they exchange information with each other.

So, I asked the service staff where to smoke a cigarette. They told me in the parking from main entrance on the right. And so, I found them. A Spanish girl, who was smoking her cigarette, confirmed what I had understood. She also told me that we could not choose where to sleep, they would call us, and we had to go where they told us.

“And luggage?” I asked.

“No, no baggage. It cannot be taken. The planes are under seizure.”

“Alright!” I exclaimed. But how do you think they let you take your bags!

Chapter 5 – Reagan And Newfoundland

5.

I Checked It

A sound of voices woke me up. Something had happened. People talked to each other nervously. The silence returned only when the plane’s pilot spoke into the microphone, but I did not understand anything, not even when he said it in Italian. He spoke in a low voice as if all words were attached, as pilots usually do, they mutter.

The job of a pilot is a tough nut to crack, contrary to what ordinary people think and how much prestige they have. They always have to stay there in the cabin in a place so tight that not even a train station toilet is so tight. With a person, the co-pilot, whom he has not chosen, who must tell him everything he does, and he replies, “I checked that you did it. This is for flight safety,” to avoid thinking one thing and doing another or not doing it at all. 

Nobody wants to have someone who controls everything you do, even for double the salary as a pilot. After an hour, one would go crazy; instead, they stay there every day in that condition. They can’t even say:

“I will go out for five minutes for a walk.” Where are you going? You are at ten thousand meters above sea level.

So, they are expected to do it reluctantly when they have to talk to passengers. Who wouldn’t be? They have to communicate, but if the passengers don’t understand, it doesn’t matter. They have done their job.

The only one who slept was Rudolf, my neighbor, the Austrian. I don’t know if he drank more than a glass of wine or if he had put some sleeping pills in the wine. I tried to talk to him, but he didn’t get upset. He was quite at odds with the other restless passengers. I understood only three words from the pilot:

“Let’s land first!”

So, if we land, there is no big deal, I thought. We landed first, which could mean we arrived early. Even if it was strange, that made me feel comfortable. After all, I had no other choice; when you have no other option, better to convince yourself of the best possibility.

Meanwhile, the passengers had put their personal belongings in the overhead bins. These are those luggage racks that open over the heads of the passengers; they had sat. The passengers fastened their seat belts and calmed down, or silence of concern made everything seem calm.

Calm down means everything is okay. I was forcing myself to think. Rudolf slept beautifully and quietly. From the window, what little I could see from my position was good weather, and we were above the sea. New York was on the coast, so it could be that we were on our way. I sensed that the plane was lowering in altitude, the lights were off, and the stewardesses were in their places. Everything seemed okay.

Everything is okay. I was also thinking of New York with all the images I had seen in the photos and in the movies. The Statue of Liberty, the skyscrapers, the yellow taxi and the people walking fast on the sidewalks. A little later, New York was waiting for me. I was calm and began to relax, closed my eyes and tried to lower my level of attention, knowing that as soon as I got off, I had to take my bags, do the documents check and find a hotel. 

I was also a bit afraid of not being able to find something or not understanding what to do or where to go, but then I imagined the many people of New York, and I said to myself:

“If they live there, I can also find a hotel. It should be easy; there will be many tourists daily.”

While I had the perception that the plane was lowering again in altitude, I looked to see if anything could be seen from the windows on the right and left, albeit far from me. What I was seeing were woods, but does New York have all these parks? Strange it was, but I kept convincing myself that it was New York. On television, they show buildings, but perhaps there are forests near the airport. Finally, the plane touched the runway, and everyone heaved a sigh of relief.

We have arrived! I thought.

But the woods in front of the window were still there.

Chapter 4 – Reagan And Newfoundland

4.

Put A Stone On It!

After I checked in and passed the security check, I felt like I had passed the high school exam over again. I was glad I left those nuisances of check-in and security behind me. It was people just creating problems with those strange questions. For them, there were only the rules to apply. I was lighter in mind and in hands. I no longer had my suitcase and therefore no trolley. I only had the ticket, and I only had to remember a letter and number that was my gate.

Beyond the security checkpoints, this whole part of the airport was different from the others; it seemed like a paradise. Before, I saw a sea of people walking hurriedly from one side to the other. The people appeared to be from another social class, yet they had all come from where I had come, from the check-in. 

Everything was cleaner, and even the cleaners were calmer and smiling more. The shops were brighter, the shop assistants were more beautiful, dressed better, smiling, and even the air was fresher.

Could it be the stress of the pain in the ass at check-in and security that unnerved people? It is indeed an excellent question!

I found my gate, and a boarding attendant asked me for the ticket very kindly and superficially checked it to see the correspondence of my name on the ticket with that of the passport and did not even check if the photo in the passport was mine, that is if it was me.

A tunnel took me directly into the plane without crossing the parking lot and climbing the ladder. I felt important even if, for everyone else, the things I was doing were usual.

Elsewhere, like many, before the flight, I felt a little anxious to fly. I had already done it a few times, but each time it was new, a little more, a slightly less one thinks about take-off and maneuvers before reaching cruising altitude. As if once, you got up and unfastened your seat belts, you entered a highway with the lane bounded and protected by guardrails.

Indeed, once the seat belt warning lights went out, I looked around a bit. I was sitting in E29, the middle seat of the middle row of seats about halfway down the aisle, just after the wings. I looked around to see what people were there to look for something to observe, someone who was doing something, but what did I want to see? They were all just sitting. 

The more experienced were already falling asleep as if they were not doing anything special, not like me, who was on the first flight to America.

They were almost all foreigners, or instead not of my nationality, since I didn’t know what country we were in at that moment. Maybe back home, so a more relaxing journey. The return journeys are less stressful and more peaceful; one does not think about where one is going.

To my right, I had an American lady talking to her thirty-year-old daughter, sitting on her right across the corridor. They were talking to each other as if it were a closed circle, challenging to intrude to exchange a few words to ease the tension and distracting themselves.

On the left, I had a gentleman, about sixty, German or perhaps Austrian, who was a bit busy with some documents and on his laptop. I knew that the Austrians were more social than the Germans, so it seemed to me he was more Austrian than German. He was working on the laptop, but was not going to America for work. After talking about where we were going, he told me he was selling encyclopedias. Not that he sold them directly, but he had a small business with vendors who went around the houses to sell them.

Not that he spoke openly about his work to everyone, but it certainly made him feel safe to tell me some things that were a bit personal. After all, we had to be together for a few hours, which was no small thing. We did not know each other before; we came from different places, making it impossible to have mutual acquaintances, and after the trip, we would have disappeared. Just an excellent opportunity to confide.

He told me that his job was not the best in the world, but he did it as if to recover a bit from what had happened to him in recent years.

He had a good life, a company that made him earn money, married his wife from a good family and had three children who were teenagers then. But five years earlier, his wool knitwear business went into crisis due to customers who hadn’t paid him. So, he went bankrupt. His wife left him, and his three children went to live with her.

He was left with the family villa, which he still had to continue paying for, and he needed to pay alimony to his wife for his children. But that didn’t stop him. His theory was:

If something ends, do not stand there trying to recreate it to restart it from the same point in the same direction to get back the same thing you had. This constantly leads you to think about what you did wrong. One thing ended badly, stop there, start a completely new thing. The old one is finished, so put a stone on it and go somewhere else with the few things you are left with.

Instead of reopening a new shirt factory, trying to regain the trust of the banks, suppliers and customers who had already judged it after declaring bankruptcy, he started selling encyclopedias.

He had never thought of selling encyclopedias, but it was the banalest thing that crossed his mind. In reality, he didn’t start from scratch, but took over the company from a friend who had retired. Not that it was a big business, but he was doing it to start something new, not to try to make it successful, not to regain credibility. He had already put a stone on it.

He added that he got married to the former maid. She was twenty years younger than him. Not that she was the love of his life, nor that she was beautiful, but because they were left alone in the house. He could no longer pay for the house nor pay her for her services, but she stayed with him anyway. They started living together as a couple before they tied the knot. In their wedding vows, they promised to love and respect each other. He also became the father of a one-year-old son. He said:

“My house is frequented by many young people. My teenage children, with my first wife, come a few days a week and sleep with us. My one-year-old son is always around there. The sellers of encyclopedias who are boys and girls in their twenties or thirties always come to my office inside the villa for meetings and business lunches. It’s always all a party!” He really said it with satisfaction.

The wife who had left was still mad at him, but he didn’t know for what. She said that perhaps she felt she had been expelled from the villa, and the estate had resumed a new life, different from when she lived there. This made her envious. He only irritated her because she still felt the villa was hers.

“But it was she who was gone!” he said emphatically.

“Before, my wife made the villa’s environment precise and tidy, but now a bit of anarchy reigns as if everyone took their space. Of course, there is a bit of a mess, but we make more use of all the rooms in the villa, and that’s right! We bought it, and we have to use it to the fullest!”

Hearing this story made me forget where we were. I reflected on how complex this person’s life was, with so many events, but he didn’t take it too hard. On the contrary, he was proud to accept what had happened. Indeed, it was not easy, and perhaps he took advantage of these moments to talk about himself and show the world everything was fine.

And maybe this was the version of him while the version of the wife and the right-thinking was that he was having an affair with the maid, his wife was gone, and he bankrupted the sweaters factory. But I didn’t care if it was true, and I still believed that his story was interesting, also because he told it not as something he had been able to do but simply something that had happened to him.

I was satisfied that I had gained the trust of a stranger who narrated his story.

It was September, and I could see the sunlight from the windows, but I thought that the month when you fly was unnecessary; if it was not night, there was always the sun.

I already knew that this day was going to be extended due to the time zone, as if we were travelling away from the night.

Thinking that by now, if we were not halfway through the trip, we were close to it and in any case, I felt I had left Rome behind, and now it was time to think only of New York.

After receiving the meal to eat from the hostesses, not knowing if it was the American breakfast or the Italian lunch, I fell asleep thanks to the glass of red wine that Rudolf, my travel neighbor, had recommended to me. He told me:

“A glass of red wine after eating makes you fall asleep better!”

I fell asleep thinking about the concept of putting a stone on it. How many situations does a person carry around and always keep them without forgetting them or giving them a cut? Instead, he should put a stone on them and be done with it to achieve peace.

Chapter 3 – Reagan And Newfoundland

3.

No! Not That One!

The queue I found at check-in was endless and sprawling. Trolleys full of suitcases separated the waiting people. The flight I had to take was Alitalia’s AZ644 from FCO Rome Fiumicino to EWR Newark, one of New York’s airports, even though it was located in the state of New Jersey.

Standing in line for a while, I realized the line was really still. Of course, we had to board a Boeing 767 with just under 300 seats. Hypothetically, such a long line could be expected. But people were muttering; maybe they knew something more about me. I was the last in line, and probably no one would come after me. I couldn’t even understand what they were saying. They were almost all Americans. So, I went to see what happened and if there was a hitch in the check-in.

The farther I went, the fewer people talked until the first ones in line were speechless, watching a woman with a two-year-old girl who was checking in. She spoke agitatedly. She was desperate and could not make herself understood. Likewise, she spoke Italian with a Russian accent and waved two A4 pages of what must have been the ticket, and she had two large suitcases.

Next to her was a man of about 30, her husband or partner. He was outside the yellow line that delimited the line, so he would not have left with the wife or partner she had been. He was there to solve the problem, but his muscles in full view and her threatening attitude only made everything much more difficult for a possible compromise.

The girl who worked at the check-in called her manager, a grizzled man in his 40s standing behind her and answering the two people kindly. Given the overheating of the situation, she requested the intervention of the police. In this way, two policemen had arrived who had positioned themselves near the muscular boy to intervene in case the words had passed down to hands.

The contention was that the girl had paid for the ticket for her child and two suitcases of twenty kilograms each, but her check-in did not accept them.

The slightly rude, muscular guy was ready to get hands-on. The Russian girl started crying like she had lost hope of doing something. The manager, protected by the counter and behind the check-in girl, told the muscular guy that he couldn’t do that. They could not accept her suitcases because they weighed more than sixteen kilos, the limit allowed for the next flight to New York. It was a propeller ATR where staff loaded baggage into the hold rather than from the conveyor belt. Being loaded by hand, they had to lift them, and the limit for a working person was that she could lift no more than sixteen kilos.

I did not understand how such a simplistic justification could change the boarding rules that the passenger had already acquired. As if it were forbidden to lift a suitcase in two to halve weight borne by each operator, things that are difficult to understand.

The Russian girl said that she had written in the booking that the suitcases weighed twenty kilos, which was acceptable, and she paid even more to carry them. The check-in girl kept repeating that at first, there had to be a Boeing 737 for the second leg where they could have taken those suitcases, but in the last few hours, the company on the second leg changed the aircraft from a 737 to an ATR perhaps due to technical problems or probably because there were fewer passengers than expected. The reason was not known.

The whole discussion was based on this problem. They could not accept the check-in, and the Russian girl had no idea how she could carry her bags with her. I thought it would not be challenging to remove four kilos per suitcase.

Given the significant delay accumulated, the check-in manager asked the girl to move to the counter next to him, signalling the policemen to help to continue to discuss and be able to check-in. The Italian boy asked his partner:

“Open this devil of suitcases!” He was furious and unnerved by his Russian partner, crying bitterly.

“What is there to cry? Stop!”

The only one who kept calm, motionless and emotionless was the little girl who seemed to draw all her tranquility from her pacifier. Once the suitcases were opened, everyone became silent; they were full of clothes and shoes placed like a puzzle. They were interlocking to let in as many things as possible. The man began to tell her:

“Take this off!”

“No! This no!” She replied.

“Take that off!”

“No! Not that! “

The man lost all hope and said:

“Do what you want, but make sure you take this damn plane!”

She started removing something here and there; after she had removed some stuff, they weighed the suitcases again. Meanwhile, near the man, the pile of clothes removed from the briefcase grew. Having reached the limit of sixteen kilos per suitcase, the boy asked:

“Now, what do we do with these clothes? Do I throw them away?”

For a bit longer, the slim Russian girl began to undress and dress in as many clothes as possible without sparing even the child; that is, the child also dressed in garments discarded from the suitcases. She had taken on a clumsy appearance. She was no longer thin, but looked like a ball; most of her clothes had tied to her waist.

I don’t know how long she could have resisted that September morning with those temperatures. While watching this scene, the check-in girl asked me if I should check in or if I was just watching. I had forgotten that the queue was now gone. Everyone had checked in and left their suitcases. I was the only one left. I replied:

“Yes, yes,” I said fearfully, “I also have baggage, but it’s not that important.”

Nervously she took the booking sheet from me, blowing as if to say:

“We also missed this!”

After all I had seen, what was I supposed to say? 

The point of no return had been passed, my bag was gone, so I had to follow it. It seems as if one bought the trip for bags or suitcases and as an accessory, they give you the place for you as a person.

“Go to understand them!”

As always, I think they started with small rules and ended up losing their logic. The traveler is done being the subject and all. But that’s okay for everyone. They have more rules for suitcases than for people. But the question that came to my mind was:

What if I don’t leave anymore?

Would they give me the bag back, or would it go to New York anyway and send it back?

But then, who would have paid for the return trip of the suitcase? I had only booked the one-way ticket. It is a question that would have sent the whole airport into a tailspin. It was better to leave and not think about it.

I didn’t even know it because I was going to New York. I’ve never been a tourist; I’ve never bought a travel package. Going to a place with all the days scheduled seems horrible to me, let alone for a fee. 

I was going to New York to see what it was like to take a walk. I would also have stopped there if I liked it, but the most likely thing was that I would only be there a few days, and then I would come back to go somewhere else, perhaps forever.

I checked in and went to the hand-baggage check, and in front of me was the Russian woman with her little girl. The husband had already taken the way home, along with the expired parking ticket. The security guard asked the woman:

“Leave your clothes and hand luggage in the boxes to pass them through the metal detector. You have too many clothes on; it’s not good!”

“Give me some of your clothes, and I’ll pass them with me,” I told her. I only had one hand luggage and a jacket.

Another guard, a girl of about 25, immediately rushed over to tell me:

“It cannot be done! Everyone is responsible for their own baggage, and it is not allowed to pass objects belonging to other people who do not know each other.”

“Of course!” I answered her. That would be crazy!

I took the four shirts the Russian girl had left me and went to the parallel checkpoint to avoid that guard. After the examination, I returned the four shirts to the Russian girl. She thanked me, and I went alone to the gate. Crossing the beautiful duty-free shops and going with a small metro-type train to the terminal for non-EU flights, I already felt satisfied with making that trip.

Chapter 2 – Reagan And Newfoundland

2.

Ten Thousand Lire

It costs more than a flight to take the direct bus from Termini station to Fiumicino airport. So, I took a couple of local trains. On one of these trains, a boy was arguing with his girlfriend. The wagon was empty. I understood perfectly well what they were saying. They didn’t care if I could listen to them; maybe they thought I was a foreigner. 

The boy instructed the girl on how to behave. Recently, she has started a new job in a bar or restaurant or something like that. She was having problems with colleagues. She couldn’t stand the behavior of some of them ordering her things to do with authority and aggression. Not that there was anything significant, I mean a police report, but she had a demanding work environment. Her boyfriend, in his thirties and a few years older than her, struck me. She felt that she could give decisive advice, according to him.

“You have to tell him no! If you don’t say no the first time, then it’s hard for him to respect you. You must make him understand that he can’t put his feet on your head.” 

The girl listened without saying anything. What the girl thought she did not say, but I think she was not the type to wage war, say no, and fight it out. But what the hell of a job could it be, working eight hours a day as her boyfriend expected in this situation. Her colleagues pressed her, and now she was also on the other side of her boyfriend, who was pressing her in the opposite direction. The girl was not bad and did not know how to be evil; for sure, she would cry in the evening. 

The flight I had to take was the following day. I should have slept in a hotel, but there was very little time to rest between check-in and check-out at the hotel. Also, at the airport during the night, some people would wait for one of the early morning flights. It wasn’t going to be difficult to socialize with someone. The hope was to find someone exciting instead of the people on the bus.

That night at the airport, I met a Brazilian footballer playing for a Tuscan team in an amateur league who was returning to Brazil and an Oakley eyewear designer from California. It was nothing special, but enough to spend the night awake. The conversations were about places where people lived better, highlighting sympathetic contradictions.

On a row of chairs not far from us slept a man who did not look like a traveler, but a homeless wretch who actually had this big house as the Rome-Fiumicino airport. He had a couple of old bags and an exercise mat that spread over a row of seats on a bench and served as a bed.

In fact, those who furnish the airports do their utmost not to make the waiting rooms welcoming to travelers. It is always like this; they do it out of spite, they study ways to make life uncomfortable for travelers, and someone who stops for a night cannot lie down. They are marketing geniuses. If one does not want to take the hotel because he does not keep up with the times, he cannot lie down in the waiting room. 

The more inconvenient they make the waiting lounge, the fewer travelers there will be and the more the Hotels earn. Then they complain that these airports are bankrupt. Instead of making a lot of services for a few lire, they prefer to make them a failure and reopen them with new funds. Of course, they don’t go to bankrupt for the waiting rooms, but little is to be expected if this is their philosophy. In the end, this well-settled gentleman made me want to lie down to sleep.

I settled on another row of chairs, but without the carpet. I felt the seating of chairs giving me a kind of massage that soon became torture, but I managed to sleep despite this.

While I was sleeping, I felt someone touch my feet. I woke up. I looked at who it was. A man had sat right next to my feet. He apologized with his hand. I fell asleep again, not thinking about the strangeness of that man who sat in the only place I left free on the bench where I had stretched out. Although all the other accessible seats were on the other benches, he chose mine as his resting place.

Early in the morning, with the sunlight that began to penetrate the windows and the noises of the first opened bars, I woke up and had breakfast at the bar with a cappuccino and brioche. At the time of paying, I took out my credit card, waiting for the bartender to take out the machine to insert the card and enter the code, but the bartender told me:

“For less than ten thousand lire, you can only pay in cash.”

“But I have no cash on me.”

“Go pick them up downstairs from the ATM.”

So, he kindly let me go find the ATM, leaving my transaction unfinished. I returned with 50 thousand lire, and he said to me:

“I just opened, and I don’t have the cash to give you change.”

“Therefore?”

“Can you wait for me to collect to give you the change?”

“Yes, okay. There’s no other option.” I had no other choice.

I waited for enough customers to arrive to accumulate the change he had to give me. Getting a cappuccino and a brioche took me an hour or more, and I found myself in my pocket with more than 45 thousand lire, which I would have spent who knows when because I was going abroad.

As soon as the bureaucratic breakfast was finished, I took my bags to check in, but I was stopped by a thin boy of about 30 who asked me if I could lend him the phone. He said his phone and money had been stolen from him while he was sleeping. He also said that he felt a bit dizzy. Likewise, he believed the thief had put some anesthetic in the water bottle to make him fall asleep deeply while he took his valuables from him.

I felt the thief could be that man who had sat on the same bench when I slept.

I lent him the phone, thinking he had to call home or the police, but continuing to talk, he told me that he had to call the registry office of a municipality in northern Italy to get the phone number of Laura Antonelli, an actress of erotic films of the 80s era.

He wanted to contact her to ask him if he could visit her and make love to her. He told me:

“I will call her to ask if she wants to do me. Why shouldn’t she?”

“Of course!” I answered him, unconvinced.

He had read that she was no longer an actress and that she had become a person with everyday life. To hear it, it was simple and, above all, something that one does every day. I asked him:

“How will you get home when you have no phone or money?”

“Not a problem; I’ve already bought the train tickets.”

I tried to ask him questions about what had happened to him last night, but he kept talking about Laura Antonelli.

Something made me think that perhaps the anesthetic had some other unusual effect on him, but how he behaved and spoke made me think that he was just like that in life even before the theft. He even made me feel:

Now that I’ve given my phone, I can’t ask him back; it didn’t seem polite to do that. But if he does call, my number will appear on the other side. If someone had reported him, I would have gone in the way too.

However, he had a purpose in life. At least he had something interesting to do. He gave him a bit of curiosity as he was not a guy you meet daily. He called that number in the municipal registry office, and a man’s voice answered him and said:

“I can’t give information about people who live in our municipality.”

Then I breathed a sigh of relief. He handed the phone back to me.

He thanked me and said:

“Anyway, it’s okay, at least now I know that Laura Antonelli lives in that town; otherwise, the employee would have answered me that he didn’t know her. I’ll go and talk to him in person; maybe it will be easier.”

Indeed, he was interesting, not for what he wanted to do but for how specific ideas came to his mind. Any other person robbed of his valuable things would only think about what he had lost, but this guy was an exception.