The glass doors slide open and head outside, dragging my blue Samsonite suitcase behind me. Fuel fumes, burning oil and freshly laid mulch, flood the air and I nearly gag. I grasp the door handle to reveal well-worn tan seats. The cabbie’s head jerks to see if I need assistance with my bags. I smile and nod nonverbally indicating that ‘I’ve got it.’ Neither heavy nor light, the suitcase is unwieldy as I drag it into the car. As I slide across the leather seat, I tell the driver where I need to go. We pull away from the terminal and I see the sun cascading across the rim of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. The sky is brilliant, white cotton balls abound surrounded by a translucent blue sea. Denver International Airport is the largest airport in the world, located on a parcel of land twice the size of Manhattan. The road to and from the airport gives the impression that we are miles from a city or suburb with the treeless plains laid out in front of us. I love this airport, especially the trains that take you to and from your terminal, and the beautiful mountains that preside over your arrival or departure.
The driver begins navigating the familiar path and I settle into my seat with these images dancing in head. A quick flash to the front window and the center mirror quickly destroys any thought I might have of making the trip in quiet. The driver is dressed in a simple cotton shirt, with dark olive khakis. His skin is the color of dark red clay and his hair is silky black, but so short I can see his scalp. With his left arm folded long the open window and his right draped across the steering wheel, he asks me whether I am visiting. I nod.
“Have you been here before?” he says as his face gazes into the mirror.
“Yes, I use to live here?”
“Where are you from?”
“Washington, D.C.” At this he turns his head to make eye contact with me and then quickly returns his attention to the road. Still trying to ascertain what my looks refuse to divulge. “Is that where you were born?” his tone is more perplexed and he is not quite confident in his query.
“No, in Ohio.”
“O.” I have never played chess, but the pauses that come between this question and the next always give me the impression of strategic planning for the next move. “Where are your parents from?”
A chuckle almost leaps from my throat and a broad smile creases my face. Fortunately, I keep my composure. It is always fascinating to see the various ways the questions are introduced, the desire, need to know ‘What the HELL are you?’ I have been asked so many times that I feel like hanging a shingle around my neck, it has to be easier? “They are from the Midwest too.“
And before I have a moment to pause he asks, “So, what is your background? Ethnically?” The questions linger on the interrogator’s lips. It has taken many years for me to come to accept this brutish intrusion. I would never think to ask someone “what they are?’ upon first introductions, let alone in even less formal settings. But I am use to it now, and at my most creative I work my magic, I invent.
(For more background read: The Impostor post.)