Judging a book by its cover and other airport learnings

Have you ever bought a book because you loved the cover? I recently did so in Fiumicino Airport, where I spent five full hours. Not exactly a lot of fun on a public holiday, but sometimes things do not work out the way you want. Depending on how you look at it, I was either five hours early for my late night flight, or five minutes late (yes only 5) to get booked on an earlier flight.
Bottom line: FIVE hours of waiting. I was not amused. No place else to go than the departure hall for a few hours until the check-in opened. No other option than to find a strategic place to sit and write, and indulge in some people watching.


1. No man’s land
What I learned this time from being stuck in the middle between where I came from and where I was going to, is that for the first time ever, after all the travelling I have done in my life, I got caught by a raw feeling of being completely alone on the planet. Alone in no man’s land. You cannot go back to the city where you felt happy just a few hours earlier, because that experience belongs already to the past perfect. And you are nowhere near to where you want to go in the near future because you have to WAIT until you are told to move. That type of patience has never been a specialty of mine.

Roma, Fiumicino Airport

2. Radical decisions
After having answered the remaining mails of the day, and after having written a few emotional texts I maybe should not have written… I started to write a letter of resignation. Yes! An official letter to tell some people back in Belgium I did no longer want to be part of their organisation, and that my decision was final. “IRREVOCABLE” was the word I used. I have never written any letter any faster as the one I wrote in the departure hall of Fiumicino, let alone a letter of resignation. Why did it go so easily? I had given my decision to resign the required amount of thought in the weeks before of course. But there was more: the atmosphere in an airport is perfect to come to final conclusions. There is the distance, the detachment, and no one around to make you change your mind. You can proceed and execute immediately so to speak. The perfect setting for radical decisions.

3. Airport kissing unravelled
The departure hall also sees a lot of goodbyes between people who are being faced with the imminent reality that someone dear will be missed for days, weeks or months… and that reality creates a strong sense of belonging.
I saw that confirmed in the way people kiss, and maybe more importantly in the rest of their body language. Body language never lies… This made me come to the brutal conclusion that it must be true that airports see more sincere and intense kissing than any other type of public venues, wedding ceremonies included!
Why is that?
Because “Mi mancherai” is so much stronger than the simple overused “ti amo”.
“I will miss you” is the superlative of “I love you”, because if you don’t love enough, there is not even a reason to miss. As such, airport kissing mystery unravelled.



With my new findings from the departure hall, I made it eventually through the customs. Another two hours. This time, Feltrinelli draw my attention to a most beautiful book cover: “Mantieni il bacio” by Massimo Recalcati.
I don’t know Massimo Racalcati at all, but should I? Does it matter? No. The cover of the book appealed to my imagination. In other words: an innocent impulsive purchase.

Judging a book by its cover –
Cover photo from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound”, with Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck, 1945

L’amore dura solo il tempo di un bacio? La sua promessa è destinata fatalmente a dissolversi? La fiamma che brucia può durare eternamente? Oppure ogni amore finisce inevitabilmente in merda?

Massimo Recalcati –

“Judging a book by its cover” is not that stupid after all
If you are lucky, it makes you happy twice.

1. The cover lets you wander off

In the case of “Mantieni il bacio”, the cover reminded me of the all time dream I have to embark some day on that famous 8000 km train journey with the “Trans Mongolia Express” through the vast Mongolian desert, all the way from Moscow to Beijing… when time permits and when I find a like-minded soul that is also thrilled to go for a few weeks on this incredible adventure to seek solitude and the deeper sense of time and place. Do not underestimate the challenge…

2. The content is a nice surprise
Needless to say, the content of the book cannot be anything else but a surprise. “Mantieni il bacio” is indeed not about a train journey. It is about life and love and lots of logical and less logical questions. It starts with “L’amore dura solo il tempo di un bacio?” – “Does love only last the time of a kiss?”
I will find out soon on one of my next plane trips. I’m sure it will be an entertaining read.

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Nice read.

    When thinking about “1. No man’s land”, imagine you are (or feel) forced to leave the city, country or life you loved and
    that you (have to) move to a place that you don’t know or where you are not welcome.

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