The Atlanta Airport is not an easy place to kick back and relax, but today we have passes for the United Club Lounge and enough time to use them. God is enjoying the free Budweiser and I’m happy to have found a salad bar, chips, salsa, and windows.
But liberated from the constraints of luggage, what I really want to find is my center. I sit on a worn sofa, consider the ebb and flow of travelers, and examine my life for signs of meaning. So far, it doesn’t look hopeful.
Nearby, a thin man eats pulled pork with collard greens, and a young woman in leather hotpants refills her plate, eyelids heavy with artificially thick lashes. God is busy chatting up one of the waitstaff in a language I don’t recognize.
A blown-up black and white photo in front of me features a row of women standing at attention. Shoes, hair, pigment, purses, smiles, skirts, hats, breasts, height, weight: identical. The shot was likely taken half a century ago. In geologic time, less than a split-second, and yet here we are. I have no explanation for anything I’m observing. None.
“You don’t need an explanation,” God whispers.
“Then why do I want to explain everything?” I whisper back.
God shakes his head. “Let it be. That’s what dogs do. Even the smartest breeds.”
“Then why wasn’t I born a dog?” I ask. I know he’s not serious. We’re just making small talk. Humans are forever asking why and insist on explaining even when we’re wrong. We seem purposefully designed to want to understand.
God grins. “Totally on purpose. Why do you think you travel?”
To those of us born before devices, the one-way conversations around me look like repeated singular insanities. My own device activates itself to urge me along. Time to check in. Time to board. Time to go.
I glance at God, not sure what he’s planning to do. He removes an earbud and looks up. “Hey, you think this place is open 24/7?” he asks, yawning.
“For you, of course,” I answer. “But is this really where you want to hang out?” I look pointedly at the retrograde picture of the lined-up women.
“Ah, those were the days.” God says. “Would you mind saving me a seat?”
“You know it doesn’t work that way,” I say as I gather my burdens. “See you in Montana?”
“You betcha.” God smiles and stretches his legs out so long I can no longer see his feet. “And you can leave your carry-ons with me if you’d like.”