A GATE / Seira Sakumoto

An airplane disappears into the dark sky. A few minutes later, another airplane is swallowed up in the darkness. It’s getting chilly outside. Some people are going back inside the airport, but I keep looking at the airplane until the very last moment when I lose its yellow light on the wings in the black limitless sky.

One day in June, I got on a train with my friend. It was 8 p.m. The destination was Haneda International Airport. All I had was a PC in my backpack, iPhone in the right pocket of my jeans, and a few coins in my wallet. Since it was Thursday, there weren’t many people in the Keikyu train heading to the airport. We were able to get seats. Next to us, there were group of foreigners sitting on the seat holding their huge suitcases. I remember that on their faces there was no feeling of excitement in contrast to me and my friend. We sat down on the seat and kept talking until we got to the airport. It took 40 minutes to get there but our conversation and excitement made me forget the time it actually took to get there. I felt like it was just a five-minute ride. In the train, we were searching where to go next after we got to the airport. What’s the earliest flight we can get? What’s the cheapest? It seemed that Korea would be our next destination even though we had no ticket and we didn’t have our passports. We were excited enough to forget everything.

As the train gets closer to the airport, little by little people got off the train. The train announced that the next stop was Haneda airport. At that moment there was only me, my friend and the group of foreigners sitting right next to me. We got off the train and got on to an elevator to get to the 3rd floor of the airport where the departure lobby was located. On the way to the lobby, a woman talked to us. “Have you changed money yet?” We said “YES!” confidently. Of course, we hadn’t done it and we had no money to change.

Soon after we arrived at the airport, we went up to the observation deck on the fifth floor. From the observation deck, we could look over a large space where airplanes were waiting to take off. When the airplane flew up to the sky, everyone at the observation deck gave their eyes to the airplane. One looked really excited and the other one looked sad. Actually, I was the one who saw off the airplane sadly. So did my friend.

We sat on a bench where we can observe the entire space of the runway. I kept looking at airplanes. In the background, some lights were shining kindly. A strong but nice wind was blowing my hair. My nose smelled the good smell of beef that we got from Yoshinoya on our way. The soft voice of Ed Sheeran coming from earphones made me breathe deeply and slowly. Airports must be a noisy and busy place, but the observation deck on the night that Thursday wasn’t like that. It was calm and silent.

I closed my eyes and leaned on my friend’s shoulder. We came here with no purpose. We just came up with the idea to come here at Starbucks in Nakameguro while reading books. I thought it was just an idea but by listening to Ed Sheeran’s voice, I felt like maybe it wasn’t just an idea. We were meant to be here perhaps. We were, at least I was craving for an escape from life, from reality. It didn’t have to be a big and long journey. I just wanted to be somewhere where I could let my mind go everywhere but not here, my hometown, my school and myself. Unconsciously, we were thinking of the airport as a gate to the world where we didn’t belong but where we didn’t have to feel trapped anymore in the reality, perhaps.

If you get a ticket, go to an airport and get on to an airplane, you can go wherever you want. Even though human beings invented such a precious gift for us to escape from the reality, why do I have to be trapped in Japan? Why do I have to be trapped in the four years of college? Why do I have to be trapped in the situation which I cook soup and side dishes for my family? I have the right to be free from things which try to tie me up tight.

From inside of a bus heading to my house, I looked at the city lights, which shined yellow just like the airplane lights. It was 11: 47 p.m. With a deep sigh, I told myself, you were the one who didn’t allow yourself to be free.

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