We are the sum total of our stories.
So when we sit down at the computer and open a vein we offer life to someone else. We pour out what we’ve learned or failed to learn as a lifeline to someone else.
We offer our stories across computer screens, transfusion-like.
On Wednesday morning I re-live the same story I’ve lived a hundred times in a hundred different airports. There’s the familiar waiting, the knot in stomach, the worrying I’m at the wrong gate. There’s the anticipation and the flutters every time the automatic doors open and the aching, bursting excitement.
A mom comes through with three kids. They are all just years older than my own three. They come through at a flat run. I look from them over to the crowd; I want to see if I can spot who they’re running toward before they arrive.
Light is pouring out of her, that smile so wide it cracks open the seams of Dulles airport. White, white hair and a body made for story time and chocolate chip cookies. She’s standing still but she’s running just as hard at they are.
I always cry at airports.
We share our stories because they lifeline remind us that we’re all created out of the threads of the same story.
The tiles are dirty white same as in South Africa, Guatemala, Ukraine. Airport tiles. Time loses all meaning in between departure and arrival gates. We simply wait. We suspend. We remember how little control we have over anything.
When you whisper into my inbox how you stole a year from “real life” to go home and raise your grand daughter my story stands up and screams applause at yours.
Time is wasted on airports. People simply are. They are angry or frustrated or desperately sad or whole. They are the realest versions of themselves when they are holding desperately to the people they love. We were never made for good-bye.
This is my boring, ordinary, sacred story.
I missed their wedding in November.
I watch the door open and close and open again with each new group of people who aren’t them.
He is my little brother who was always like my big brother and I’m so relieved I’m on time to meet him and his new-I’ve-known-her-forever wife. I’m usually late. He knows that. How many arrivals have seen me rushing to the gate and him already sitting on a chair waiting for me. Not today; today I am waiting. If you’re waiting in an airport you’re on time.
I’m on time.
And when I see him the time between then and now unravels and I know he knows. This is how it feels to live in the in between. All those missed nephews and first neices, missed dedications and Tae Kwon Do lessons, missed birthdays, missed engagements, missed houses and moves and churches and opening nights and padkos, cross-country, Karoo nights.
When the doors slide open it’s all washed away.
And I’m there hugging his tall body and holding onto his hand. She’s my sister now and not just my friend.
For ten days we will get to live in real time again.
Tonight I write for all the homesick. Because sometimes home comes to us.
All we have to do is open our arms wide and welcome it.