I've been traveling for five days now; in and out of airports, on and off trains, hotel rooms, hauling around a suitcase, surrounded by people speaking dozens of languages. All within the US.
There are things I love about travel, but as it turns out, being sick is not one of them. I spent 2 of the last 5 days with a stomach bug or allergic reaction. Not sure which and doesn't really matter; either way I have been incapacitated. The point is, I'm feeling weaker than usual which makes me more likely to be disoriented, easily overwhelmed, and anxious. And so, my dear, I'm dragging myself through the airports today with my heart on you.
I'm rushing through busy streets and crossing on the wrong light, thinking of you. I wave an apology to the bus trying to turn while I jog across an intersection, feeling like an obvious foreigner. How well do you understand cities? Even cities the size of ours may feel utterly overwhelming, and I'm certain your travels to get to us will require much larger cities than you are used to.
I hustle to the train station, buy a ticket, and wait, only to realize I'm on the opposite platform and rush across just before the doors slide shut. My suitcase slows me down. I think of you; glad that for your first leg of travel you won't have luggage--you don't yet own any.
I arrive at the airport, surrounded by a thousand people. Wait in a long line to get a ticket which is missing a seat assignment. There are people everywhere. People with dogs, people with kids, families. I think of how overwhelming all of this humanity may be; how painful it may be for you to see families; how confusing the process is; I'm glad you'll have friends with you at check-in.
I wait in a 100 person line to get through security. Fussy little dogs weave around their owners (don't get me started on fussy little dogs at airports. Some day I'm going to travel with a coat full of hamsters.). I reach the front and immediately strip off my coat, cardigan, shoes, and watch into a bin. I drop my briefcase in another and haul out my laptop to lay next to it. I slide my suitcase on last and slip the baggie of toothpaste and mascara out to drop next to my shoes. Ten seconds, but it's a well-practiced maneuver. Three steps to the left, five steps forward, three steps to the right. Re-pack my suitcase and briefcase; re-dress myself. Twenty seconds. Practiced. I think of you, wondering how they'll prepare you to understand the expectations at security. Grateful, again, that you're traveling very light.
And now I sit at my gate, delayed an hour. I am eager to get home, but there are connections and delays to get through first. I know that home will be a relief. Loving faces, good food, effortless communications and understanding. Comfort. I think of the anxiety you'll feel as you wait for each flight. Not just the anxiety of flying, but the anxiety of arriving. Anxious to know if there will be comfort and goodness at the end of all this. Anxious that there may be too much comfort and goodness--in which case how will you feel about going back (don't worry, we plan to make it as fantastic as possible). You are so much braver than I can imagine.
I am so excited to meet you. I wish I could be there with you for each step of travel, but please know that we'll be there at the end. At the security gates, waving and grinning, full of love. At the end, there will be love.