February 19, 2017
United Airlines Flight # 596
Warning: This blog entry may be a Debbie Downer or even worse….mushy. I’ll do my best to try to inject some humor.
Public “hello’s and goodbye’s” have always caught my attention, especially at the airport, but stick me in any transit hub and I could endlessly watch people saying hello or goodbye – the emotional display of people being reunited or saying goodbye is endlessly fascinating to me. Nothing beats a front row ticket to the interior life of a human relationship – a mother saying goodbye to their child studying abroad or a big hug-of-a-welcome home at the international baggage claim and of course the most emotional “goodbye” being that of a military person saying farewell to a loved one. It’s these acts of emotion that bring me closer to my own feelings.
Just today I had to say GOODBYE to Chris, now I realize 5 weeks is not a very long time apart and I am not going to war but none-the-less I got choked up. You see I’m about to leave for Africa on a cultural exchange program, DanceMotion USA . And I guess my tears were projecting the various time zones, the lack of Internet and phone service and the sheer amount of cultural distance. So here we are at the Denver Airport and it was obvious when we both arrived at terminal B that it was time to say goodbye, he was going his way, to Oklahoma City, and I was going mine, to NYC and then to Africa.
I was the kind of child that when my parents on the rare occasion had a night out to themselves I would wait by the window for their return, watching the headlights of passing cars in the night, just waiting for one to turn into our driveway. I can remember those first feelings of homesickness as if it were yesterday, deep emotions embedded in my memory.
I was 10 yrs old when I first truly experienced homesickness. The catalyst? Boy Scout camp in Rhode Island which was perhaps a little too butch for my queer curiosities, had it been a camp for theater geeks I may have been saved from those sleepless nights waiting for the sun to rise. The canoe merit badge with the obligatory flipping of the boat didn’t exactly help my anxieties. Couldn’t my parents read the signs that perhaps Boy Scout camp wasn’t exactly the perfect fit, did they not notice all the times I played with Barbie and my Easy Bake Oven.
The second time was a bit more justified. I was 14 yrs old and it was a three-week student exchange program to Madrid, Spain. A significant trip in that it marked a bunch of “FIRSTS” for me including my first flight, my first time out of the country, my first time separated from my twin (oh yeah I have a twin, his name is Gregory and you’ll definitely hear more about him in future blogs should you choose to follow) and my first time staying in an urban environment. I will never forget the foreign glow of neon lights outside my bedroom window or my late night binge eating in the kitchen because I didn’t know how to ask for a second serving at dinner. I called my parents once during those three weeks (my twin and I were on a very tight budget) but it only took that one time to feel the emotion. I remember the careful dialing on a rotary phone (a landline of course, let’s be real this was the 80’s and cell phones didn’t exist) and as soon as my mom picked up the receiver I began to weep, it was the delay in the conversation that magnified our distance, which magnified my loneliness.
I’m not a kid anymore so I suppose I should know how to manage my emotions which is maybe why I was surprised when tears started welling up at “GOODBYE”. Never fear, I am on a big exciting adventure and I know that in exactly 36 days, 10 hours, 25 minutes and 10 seconds, Chris and I will be reunited on the beach of the Seychelles Islands (that is if there are no flight delays) and it will be time say “HELLO” again.