Inspired by the Scintilla Project’s urging to tell stories without prompts. I may not believe in myself, but I believe in their belief in me.
I closed my eyes against the soft pattering on my window. Never mind that my closed eyes could no more block out the snow falling than a strip of filmy gauze could block the sun. Jet lag had my body on schedule to be wide awake for an afternoon of teaching, not caring that reality placed the clock at the wee hours of the morning. Exhaustion, from hours of travel, from not enough sleep, from all the stress of delayed and cancelled flights, fled the instant the lights were out. Yet I closed my eyes, futile act of desperation, seeking oblivion. His arm slipped around me and pulled me closer. His breath, soft on my cheek, lulled me to sleep.
Upon awakening, the world outside bore a soft shroud of snow. Cars, bushes, roads and buildings, hid underneath the cloak of anonymity. Perfect, whiteness covered the worn out mask of every day mundanity. A perfect description of the day’s trajectory.
The sign proclaimed that check in started at noon. In spite of the solid hour remaining until that time, people filled the line. The agents willfully ignored their own sign, processing people as quickly as the machines let them. Our turn came, we filled out the paperwork, signed off on when the dogs ate and drank last, checked the box requesting they be given water if available, and laughed at the ease. Hand in hand we wandered away from dropping the dogs at security, joyful in taking another step closer to home.
I leaned my head against the window. No air conditioning while getting deiced. Sometimes rules suck. I closed my eyes against the frustration around me. Already two hours late when the pilot finally arrived. Deiced not once, but twice. Waiting on the plane for the runway to clear, when, “We never like making this announcement.” A comedy of errors never brought so many tears. Back to the gate to wait for maintenance. “If you want to leave the plane, we ask that you do so now.” Maintenance complete but someone forgot to dispatch the fuel truck. Refueling complete, now we need to deice. Take off, eight hours late.
The tears slipped down my face after I handed the phone back to the stranger. Mom knew not to expect us tonight. I finally acknowledged the same truth. Sobbing, I curled inward. Away from his anger at the airline, away from the chill of the window, and into the pain I felt. A feather light touch on my knee made me look up. His hand, slowly rubbing circles with his thumb. His eyes, begging me not to cry. I leaned into his shoulder and the let the sobs shudder out of me.
Half a dozen people spread out across the chairs. The tv blared pointless Olympic news. Every fifteen minutes, the security warning played over the loud speakers. Sleep, however fleeting, teased the edge of consciousness. It lured me into closing my eyes only to dart out of reach with every commercial change. We embraced the all-nighter and each other, plugged in headphones, and indulged in a marathon to finish American Horror Story.
Six in the morning brought the desire for food. Unlike yesterday, when they announced our delay five minutes after the only open restaurant closed, a plethora of restaurants competed for our business. Burgers and fries for breakfast? When sleep proves elusive for two days running and up and down point the same direction, then yes, burgers and fries for breakfast. True love is being the one to refill the soda as you both stuff your faces.
The mundanity of airline travel blanketed by snow. Cold, white perfection coating every day actions. Smothering trials taking a trip from easy regularity to extreme insanity. And deep beneath, the warmth of love making it all worthwhile.
The jet lag fled long ago in the wake of late nights followed by lazy mornings. The snow remains, alternating between falling softly to blowing fiercely past my window. The location changed rapidly, putting a theater set crew to shame – Baltimore, Atlanta, Texas, Kansas, and now, North Dakota. Home followed by home. Together, anywhere meets the description.
They say life happens in the journey. I’m inclined to believe them.