Imagine an airport scene.
Mothers scolding their sons for being too rowdy. Tired flight attendants rushing from one gate to the next. Businessmen talking on the phone with clients or colleagues. Old women being pushed in wheelchairs by their husbands. Everything is in fast-forward and slow-motion at the same time.
I watch all of this action in silence, wondering how I can feel this alone when I’m surrounded by so many people.
And then it hits me: It’s because the idea of traveling is tainted with memories of you. Ever since you left, traveling has become one of the loneliest things I have done.
Wanderlust ran through your veins and mine. It was one of the many things that connected us to each other. The idea of new places, new cultures, new languages excited us to no end.
But as many places as we discussed visiting, as many times as we picked each other up or dropped each other off at the airport, we never took a single plane together.
I try to swallow to relieve the sudden ache in my throat. It’s alright, I tell myself. It’s alright that he went places without me.
But it isn’t. Because now I associate going places with you. Even though you’re gone, I continue to imagine you waiting in this terminal with me or reading in the window seat at my side. I can see it so clearly, it must be a memory. But it isn’t.
I briefly consider sending you a message, telling you that I miss you like hell in this very moment, but I push the thought away. What good would that do?
Instead, I allow myself to pretend you are waiting at my destination. You have parked your car and you are reading in the baggage claim area. When I get off the plane, I’ll run to you and you’ll pick me up and spin me around and kiss me. You’ll say, “I’ve missed you,” in my ear as we hug for an indefinite amount of time.
Then the airport attendant calls my flight number and announces it’s time to start boarding. I wipe my eyes dry, grab my suitcase, and prepare for yet another journey alone.