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  • I’m sitting in the Frankfurt airport after an all-night flight, waiting waiting waiting for the next plane to Venice. I’ll be here for a while. My mind is oddly sharpened. I see things I wouldn’t ordinarily see.

    Take color. There’s so little of it. The concourse is white white grey. People are dressed in black brown grey. Did Frankfurt run out of color? Things here are bad, I know. Europe is hurting--but c’mon, People, where’s your sense of spring? I’m wearing bright green shoes. Chartreuse actually. And a green striped shirt. I come bearing tidings of spring. I hail from the country Spring.

    Shoes are good to study in the airport when jetlag is a distinct possibility. It’s impossible to look at people straight on, especially before coffee. We’re all in our private worlds within this public space. Do not jump across. Do not look at us too closely. I can be sneaky, though. I can peek into their lives by looking at their shoes. Scuffed or polished, tie or slip-on, they suggest decisions made, lives lived. They point to stories.

    But there are no pointy shoes this season. No high heels. No over-the-top. No color. They’re all wearing sensible shoes. At least in the Frankfurt airport, Concourse A. Boots, sure, but even those are sensible. Like something you’d wear to ride a horse. Black and brown. I’m not hearing their stories. The boots aren’t speaking to me. The shoes are silent. My shoes are chartreuse. They’re having a ball.

    I tire of sensible, so I move on to suitcases. Ah, a little more color here, at least among the kids. A little girl wheels a drop-dead patent-leather red ladybug bag, her sister a green frog—you go girls! There are a few metallic gold purses, purple duffles, a pink backback. Okay. Now we’re talking. At least the kids have sense. I want to wave, give them a thumbs-up, but I don’t want to get hauled away. Got to make it to Venice, you know.

    The adults wheel —you guessed it-- sensible suitcases. But sensible suitcases can hold all kinds of interesting secrets. Take the young man sitting across from me—forgettable shoes—but he keeps opening and shutting a tiny black suitcase Really, who carries a suitcase that small? What’s the point? All that structure and wheels for no room. All he has in it is something soft wrapped in a burlap bag. Something soft like an animal. Something soft that he has to look at frequently, touch. Seriously great stories packed in there. Did he have to open it in security? Dare I ask him what it is? No, he catches me looking at him. He looks down at my shoes. Yessir.

    They’re walking me right to the plane now. They’re keeping me moving. They’re keeping me company. All these people in their sensible gear should thank them—for the stories they’re offering. Amazing what a pair of chartreuse shoes can do for you. Especially if you have jetlag in the Frankfurt airport, Concourse A.
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