Lies, and Other Airport Farewells

I could see airplanes landing and taking off in a steady stream as we approached the airport. Jumbo jets thundering in from their long haul across the Atlantic; small planes circling like flighty songbirds after their short hop from Paris, London, Odessa. Each plane lifting off and whisking their human cargo away was another reminder of what would be happening all too soon.

She and I shared a glance as the bus lurched around a final corner and settled to a heavy stop at the drop-off curb. I didn't want to say anything, to make this real. I helped her carry her bags off the bus and into the airport.

The steriility of our surroundings helped, but I couldn't look at her. A couple nearby in Arrivals were joyously hugging, the woman crying silently and the man tight-lipped, trying to suppress emotion but bright-eyed nonetheless.  

Time at this point became fluid. It turned into a rushing river and soared past me, these moments ticking away too fast to count and there was a blur: her bags were too heavy, and so we sat in the center of the check-in area laughing self-consciously as we tried to make everything fit and deciding what to throw out. Then it worked and she was checked in for her flight, tickets and passport clutched in her pale, freckled hand.  

As we walked together toward the security checkpoint I began to feel more and more out of place. These people here all had destinations on their mind: others they were about to see again, or at least a pleasant holiday to look forward to. I was crippled, shriveled, didn't belong here with these happy people, and one of those people was her. 

The moment came. Surprisingly, no bells tolled, no fanfare was made. I looked at her face and thought I'd never stop crying. Embarrassing, in the middle of the airport, we both sobbed and clung to each other as in a bad chick flick. But this flick starred two chicks, and this being Eastern Europe people were looking at us strangely. Though there were tears running down my face, it seemed an unconscious thing. I was holding back my emotions with everything I had, and these tears were the unavoidable overflow.  

"Well," she said, "it'll seem soon when we see each other again." 

A lie, and both of us knew it. I didn't do emotional things like this, yet here I was. Fluorescent lights flickering out the harsh edges of our farewell, I was completely out of character. Yet here I stood. When she walked away from me towards the security gate at the airport and I turned my back and walked away alone back through the entrance we’d just gone through together, I felt like my organs had been removed and replaced with hollow emptiness. The worst was that there was nothing I could do to change this situation. She was always going to get on that plane, and I was always going to walk away.

As the airplane whisked her away and back into her life, the bus took me back into the city. But I wasn't paying attention; my reflection in the glass looked wrong, and all I wanted was to fly away from here in a plane of my own. 

Category: Airports

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