airport kendall vs. real kendall

The other day when I woke up, my boarding pass from that weekend’s trip was stuck in my pillow – yikes. This summer was saturated with trips and people and travel time and I couldn’t even get away from it enough for my boarding pass to not flutter into the covers. Packed into the calendar’s pages since May:

1 move
2 weddings
1 college reunion
2 trips home
1 vacation
1 visit to family

I kept having the same conversation in passing:

“You’re leaving again this weekend?”
“You must live in the airport!”

I don’t want to be someone who lives in the airport, but the pit in my stomach when I say that tells me I’m lying. I think I do.

The airport lets all the scary parts of me grow and suppresses the real, actual me. The airport feels transitional, like real life doesn’t happen there. It means I get to say “sorry, I’m traveling” and feel less guilty about my reclusive nature than I would if I were just holed up in Brooklyn.

The airport means I buy into the lie that I’m an anonymous face into the world, with no repercussions for failing to invest time in people and places that I’ve committed to.

I idealize traveling, being obligation-less, like I idealize myself. But no beautiful, sacrificial life is without the heartache and insecurity of the day-to-day.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of the ways I imagine the ideal Kendall.

Has perfect hair
Writes beautifully
Has people clamoring for her attention
Is dressed aspirationally
Is less invested in people than they are in her
Has a perfectly-decorated room
Does not eat takeout for every meal
Eats lunch when she is supposed to (every day – that’s when you are supposed to!!!)
Works out consistently and is really good at everything she tries and does not shame herself to because she doesn’t need to because she just wants to
Is in charge of high-stakes projects and executes flawlessly
Is funny and self-deprecating
Spends half her time out of town
Never has awkward conversations unless they’re easy to turn into jokes
Is different than everyone but also desired by everyone
Is proud of her vulnerability and honesty at this very moment

In reality, it’s hard and scary for me to talk about this but I’d rather talk about it than poke and prod and beat myself into the ideal version of who I think I should be.

It’s scary how close I can get some days to manipulating how I act, the other variables around me, into the picture of life I think my ideal self deserves. The scariest part of the list above is that I want to be less invested in people than they are in me – like it’s a zero-sum game for the world’s attention and I need to come out on top.

This person isn’t who I ever can or will be. She definitely isn’t congruent with how I connect with people in the world, which is through equal parts honesty and humor.

Traveling so much lets me create a new Kendall in whatever location I find myself that weekend, and the airport is a microcosm of that. I can order 2 donuts and a huge sugary coffee if I really want to, because no one I know is watching and I feel significantly less shame about it that way. On the flip side, I can imagine that everyone’s interested in who I am: where’s she going? where is her outfit from? does she live here or is she visiting? traveling for work? what’s she reading or writing or doing? is she important?

What were you believing this was going to end up as? At the end of all this – “surprise, this is who I actually am”? Surprise, I’m just me and not any of the facade I’ve so meticulously tried to keep up?

That’s horrifying. How horrifying and prideful and upsetting to want to be only the picture-perfect, aspirational version of yourself, refusing to connect with other people on a human level.

But the exciting part is that I get the chance every single day to quit the temptation of who I think my ideal self should be and be who I really am: weak, broken, and 100% capable of loving and being loved. I’ll be in an airport again sooner rather than later, and I’ll keep you posted on how airport Kendall acts – at the very least, I hope she’ll see LaGuardia in a new light.


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