I had one of those moments today—you know the WTF, is this really my life? moments—
How? I asked the silent universe. How is this my life?
I would like to say these questions arose after a recent appearance on MTV in the raddest spike stiletto boots ever made, diamonds dripping from my ears. I have just twerked better than Celine on the late show. I am on top of the world—or at least towering over my usual vantage point in those gorgeous shoes.
In truth, all this came up at the airport during the simple act of changing planes. I almost got on the wrong train, which would have whisked me off to the wrong terminal where I would have wandered, confused, for a while until I finally figured out that I hadn’t had to take a train at all. I emerged from customs right near my connecting gate, but I wouldn’t have known this until I rode the train with the sticky poles, stared at the departure screens that change too quickly for someone who is traveling alone and stunned by the alternate reality-ness of it all.
Turns out I didn’t get on the wrong train. I saw the escalator marked “S Gates” just in time.
I am traveling alone, and it is fucking hard. I look behind me frequently while dragging my carry-on, and I try to tell myself that I do this to orient myself in transit. But it is habit—muscle memory. It is longing. I am looking for my ex-partner, my soon-to-be ex-husband, whom I dragged through many airports at my signature breakneck speed. He disliked traveling. It made him nervous. But he always knew where our gate was. That GPS thing, you know… Built in. And a smile. Always a smile for me, built in too despite his anxiety.
I am returning after a trip, but it doesn’t feel like I’m going home. There is a cat waiting who hovers somewhere between convinced-I-will-never-truly-leave-him and terrified-that-his-day-has-come. There is an apartment, newly rented a few months ago after my separation and move back to a town that is an easy, if vaguely flat, place to live. I have to go to work tomorrow—or at the least, I have committed to doing so.
Lemons in the fridge that will go bad by the weekend if I don’t use them. Divorce papers waiting on the counter to be filed.
This is fucking hard.
I’ve missed him eight-hundred-bajillion times since our separation, and today should just be eight-hundred-bajillion and one. It isn’t. Today I am aware that I am journeying. I am literally journeying, yes, but I am journeying spiritually as well. Our spirits, intertwined for so long, are separating. I can feel the strings between us tugging—stretching—unraveling. This awful and endless taffy pull I chose isn’t sweet most of the time. It sticks like a bone in my throat.
How is it that partnership didn’t work out between us? How is it that I am searching for my gate alone?
I travelled alone while we were together, of course, but he was there with me all the same. A presence. That is the way it is when you are coupled. The us is there with you no matter the distance. Now the us is a me, and I’m not sprinting through the airport as if to leave him behind. I’m tentative, measured. I stop often and look.
We two still text, my ex and I, and I see a text from him when I find my gate and sink onto a crumby seat. There is a reassuring airline employee nearby taking care of business and occasionally announcing things through her bawdy speaker.
How is it that he still knows when I am hurting? All these miles between us, and he sends me a random text this very minute to ease the gap?
I can’t answer these questions, and I can’t dwell on them too long. What I can do is load my boarding pass. Walk around the terminal a few times with all my gear in tow, stretching my legs and trying to talk myself out of yet another something chocolate.
I can journey on. Blind. Alone. And willing. I may not know how I find my gate or the courage to get up tomorrow. Breathing. But I am willing to give it a go.