Inside Versus Outside
As I watch the love of my life disappear into the airport, I can still see him through the large, glass walls that separate the interior and exterior at the Departing Flights level. He’s strolling his wheeled bag with one hand, his backpack harnessed, and laptop bag in his other hand and he’s making his way to the ticketing counter. His focus isn’t on me as I sit curbside crying, or me driving away slowly so I can see a last glimpse of him proceeding to said ticket counter. Once inside the terminal, the focus completely changes for all travelers. Check a bag, get boarding passes and ID in hand, and get to security. Step two, mostly amounts to a hurry up and wait of queues, where people move like cattle through the nylon straps until suddenly, in a burst of movement, everything gets removed: packs from backs, laptops from bags, shoes from feet, loose change from pockets, and then the reverse on the other side of security. Last, find that magic number where your plane sits waiting for you to hurry up and wait some more.
Through all of this forward movement, a handful of additional options might be able to be included depending on how efficient and productive the staff at each pinch point may function. For example, after I dropped off my superhero, he waited to check his bag at a counter with no counter staff. Suddenly, as if the Flintstone whistle blew, a half dozen agents appear from the secret back room to acknowledge the waiting passengers, prompting each to hurry up and move along – as if they weren’t waiting to do exactly that anyway. Along the way, there might be time for coffee or a muffin, maybe a visit to the facilities, or even a chance to buy a magazine for some light reading, depending on when that secret back room coughs out the staff. Regardless, those maneuvering through the airport engage in their primary focus and forget about those of us sitting curbside, hating to drive away and leave our loved ones to go about their departure.
Hold And Hold On
My Superhero and I are getting good at this. Our first set of goodbyes tore me up (see Sliding Days & Sliding Doors from March 2021), and the second set, while easier, still left me heartbroken, because that time he was really leaving for good. Or so we thought. But as it turned out, all his required task to be completed on his way overseas were checked off the “To Do” list, but he still waited for employment paperwork to be processed. Rather than sit at someone else’s home waiting, he came back home for an extra twelve days and six hours together before he really goes for good. Yes, I counted the hours, not as they were ticking away, but once he finally departed, because I cannot begin to explain how much those twelve days and six hours filled me with joy to be able to hold on just a little longer while he was in his holding pattern.
So for the third time this morning, my Angel and I held each other and said, “Goodbye,” one last time. Maybe I didn’t cry as much as the first time, or the second time, but not because I missed him any less, but because I prepared with every extra day and every extra hour we were given. I’m going to cry again – as I write this, as I come home to any empty house after work, as I crawl in bed alone – but maybe we’re getting good at saying farewell to each other. Maybe because I watched him walk to the ticketing counter as opposed to just pulling away as in previous exits, that I was given even a few extra moments to brace myself. Maybe because we were both better prepared to say goodbye, having rehearsed it several times over the past month. For whatever reason, they say the third time is the charm, but his departure isn’t charming, it’s just finally happening.