I forgot to set my alarm but luckily I still awoke, albeit ten minutes late. I had a long train ride to Midway airport ahead of me and knowing the flip flop relationship I have with the CTA and its reliability any additional time is good time. My mother was flying through on her way to California to visit family and had a layover for an hour and a half at the efficient and homely southwest side airport so we decided upon lunch. After all, according to my sketchy memory, all of the restaurants are located in the commons area and available to non-travelers as well.

I arrived a few minutes late and found her at the bottom of the entrance ramp from the trains looking at her phone, most likely trying to figure out how to use it. Seeing her in the flesh always brings up flashbacks of my youth and the things I put my parents through and the guilt washes over me. Here she is, a woman that doesn’t travel often, and kind and simple and caring. I scan the area and know that if any person says even the slightest thing wrong to her I will bludgeon them without a thought.

I approached and simply stood there without saying a word. She looked up, we hugged, and wandered the three floors looking for food. Having never been a measly visitor to Midway (why would I be?) therefore having all of the untasty treats at my disposal I mis-remembered the location of the eateries (I really wanted a beer, too) and we were stuck with the only option…a kiosk by the name of Chicago Lighthouse. What it is supposed to reference, I have no idea. Is there a lighthouse here? I think there is…meh, nevermind. Two turkey sandwiches, two cokes (diet for the Mrs.), and $21.00 dollars later we searched for seating. The waiting cue for the handicapped? Perfect.

I told her about the cold weather and she told me about her clean pap smears. During breaks of conversation I watched the travelers, as did she. “You know, Daddy (her name for my father, not mine) loved to just sit at airports and watch people. He also loved the planes, that was his favorite part, but can’t anymore. Not since the terrorists.”

“Yeah, that was a powerful ripple that ruined even the smallest things.”

Luckily she wasn’t molested too much by the TSA (a simple body scan exposing her internal staples from countless surgeries) and was satisfied that she got to keep her Yankee Candle. After a flub in the airline’s system causing her to nearly miss her plane I wandered the port for a little bit, partly to indulge in my hereditary people-watching fascination but mostly to be there if she, in fact did miss her plane. Watching people, sometimes nonchalantly, sometimes, not, go about their ways I wondered if this was what truly separated humans from the other animals; we travel for mostly leisure.

Now I say mostly because there does come the time for business, crises, and the like but I feel the majority is simply for fun. Animals migrate, or are simply vagabonds with no home whatsoever. In general, though, animals, mostly mammals, stay in a certain area their entire life. Whether it is due to lack of knowledge of a world outside of their own or simply that they find no reason to (a lion cannot go to the tundra simply because of the fact that North Face does not make a coat suitable for them and even if they did the lion never has its wallet on them…trust me) the fact remains that we people are weird.

Our knowledge of our world (as far as Earth is concerned, or, better said, the dry areas of Earth) drives us to reach for and attain what is not directly in front of us. A microcosm of this can be seen in our daily lives, whether it be huffing and puffing about the weather or, while eavesdropping, hearing a patron complain about the selection of goods offered. Either way, we are both unappreciative of our intelligence and undeserving, as a whole, of our capabilities.

Yes, simpler animals have their territory and as our abilities have grown us humans do as well…they are merely larger. Taking my dog into the forest prompts her to smell and stare at nearly everything as it is completely foreign to her. Replace the forest with a different country and we do the same exact thing. Instead of different plants, though, it is different baked goods.

Our territorial pissings now reside in treaties and contracts and pasts and futures so diluted and convoluted that no one even understands them anymore and we resort to fighting each other because, well, that’s just what we have been told to do.

I think I’ve gotten off subject. I don’t want to go into politics. God, no.

While on the lumbering, ancient train from Midway back to Chicago proper I could think of nothing else but the differences between our species and the rest, except for the obvious things like clothing and how we have nearly put Earth to bed forever. Another thing struck me…music.

The whales and dolphins and birds all have their songs, but the human’s obsession with it, down to genre specifics and the like, is almost mind-boggling. While making noise with instruments is nothing new (woodpecker, rattlesnake, etc.), consistent rhythm is. Basing complete melodies, song structures, various sounds via our intuitive nature of inventing devices for such, and even rating and talking about such things is completely human. After all, how does one songbird sing better than another? And how come all human voices cannot be as pleasing as Nina Simone’s? What makes her’s more pleasing than Gwen Stefani’s?

These questions loom as unanswered and will remain so for eternity, I am convinced. All that we have is the questions and the time to think about them. Really, that’s all I want.

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