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  • Writer's pictureTashroom Ahsan

Disgruntled Airport Dispatch

Dispatch: I’ve been at the airport for the last 6 hours. Deployed by chance and convenience—or more aptly, by my non-desire to take trains for three hours or force another ride. There’s much to report but little to remember.

Fact: You can assess how cool someone is based on their shoe choices. Human feet rub against the world more than any other part of the body. Shoes mediate the contact between the foot and earth. To choose to make this a statement in terms of fashion asserts one’s desire to perform their own aesthetic, an aesthetic choice which already depicts what one cares about. The Sketcher wearers of the world are practical, wanting to buffer their contact as much as possible. Nikes feign this comfort while operating as a statement of broad conformity—with Jordans this treads on the surface of fashion, but fails to make genuine contact. Some Europeans wear weird European things and, like all other European things, remain incomprehensible to me. There are boots. The steel wall of the boot sole declares a grand hierarchy between the leg and the land. Running shoes, Converses, Vans, flats; I understand these as a reluctant acknowledgement of the fact that one must wear shoes. And then there are slides. Slides, too, make this acknowledgement, but in an act of rebellious freedom strive to liberate the toes to air. By virtue of having soles they are shoes; by virtue of exposing feet they are free. Yet its freedom remains confined to the shape of the foot and the structure of the foot-land hierarchy, a freedom in a cage, a creative freedom which is farcical in the face of agency. Most people wear slides or running shoes.

The Dunkin’ (no longer donuts, just DD) line ebbs and flows by the exhaustion of the service workers. You have to feel for them. Imagine waking up at 6 AM consistently to tend to domesticated animals which each possess an air of self-importance, to whom you are a mediator for bare life. At 6 AM this line snakes around the two black rope barriers that shape it, creeping into the wide linoleum walkway. Imagine waking up at 6 AM with the whole world of possibility at your feet, surrounded by food in every direction—and you choose to consume the generic starch and beans of a replicable fluorescent storefront in an exchange that satisfies neither giver nor gifted. It makes sense in the structure of routine. This can be one’s life, or a facet of the diamond that constitutes home. An airport, though, is likely not a part of one’s life. But it makes sense, I think, if the liminal space is filled with oneself and all that one strives to do in them is create an image of home.

Perhaps the liminal space is where self expression comes to the fore. The performance is for an amorphous social being, one which takes on no face and has no reality in one’s life. The amorphous being dwells within each individual who comes here and they present themselves in response to their creation of it. What people wear, where they sit, how they treat others—in liminal spaces, where the others are never to be seen again, everything done is for oneself. You can see more of people here than by talking to them.

Why would one ever travel in a suit? Not only are suits dreadfully uncomfortable, they seldom look good on people. If the public is a sphere to either extend the private (and strive for comfort) or be the best you can (perform oneself as an artful act for the gaze), then the suit is a failed set of clothing. It strives for the public, sacrificing the private, but in striving for the public relegates itself to a material that says absolutely nothing. Its artfulness dissolves in its genericism, and a misshapen shirt drags one’s body down to the ground beneath them. I don’t understand.

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