August 3, 2012
|Love at Spokane Falls|
His connection’s too tight. He’ll miss the flight. He won’t arrive ‘til tomorrow. He’ll be dead-tired. Do I have to spend another night without him?
Negative prattle skitters through my head en route to Spokane’s airport. It’s just past ten pm. After four-and-a-half months of separation (broken only by my six-day jaunt to New Zealand), Pete (the PAHT-nah) and I will reunite. My stomach flips as the black-heeled sandals I’ve chosen for the occasion clickety-clack the deserted tiled hallway of the main terminal.
I’d gotten a text: “Hey babe. At LAX” hours ago, so I knew Pete made it to the US. Will I really see him? Will he really be here?
After 17 Pete-less weeks, I was beginning to doubt his existence. Not because we didn’t message or talk online (we did – daily), but because I’d steeped in singledom so long. My six and eight-year-old dinner companions would inhale macaroni and cheese and sniff at salad before hurtling themselves out the front door with a cry of, “We’re going to the PAHR-ARK!!!” Sometimes, I’d bring three peanut butter and honey sandwiches to the park just to finish eating with someone – even if those someones spent meal time running after a ball. There are worse ways to dine. Like alone.
My friend, Phoebe, and I went to see another friend sing at a venue near Spokane Falls the night Pete was due to arrive. I needed diversion, company and entertainment. We sat sipping wine when a guy I’ll call Joe sidled up and said, “I’ve been watching you since you got here. Did you see me mouth, ‘Wow!’ ?” Oh, God no. I didn’t. Joe went on to say he’d mustered the courage to introduce himself… Meanwhile, I try not to kick Phoebe under the table in the universal girlfriend signal of ‘Quick, pretend your house is on fire and we gotta go!’. Finally, I say, “I have a partner.” Which, in America, sounds like I’m lesbian. I’d claim Phoebe, but she’s married.
After Joe left, Phoebe says, “Do you get that a lot when you go out?” I tell her, “No. I rarely go out.” Nuns have better social lives than me during Spokane, Part Deux. I just dress slightly barer.
Which is how I’m dressed to greet Pete – bare shoulders, bare arms, in a green and white halter top tied around my neck. You want your long, lost beloved to notice radiance – to think you’ve made an effort. Otherwise, you’d show up in the ‘Team Building Exercise ‘99’ t-shirt from your old work (yes, a nod to the most-excellent Flight of the Conchords song, ‘Business Time’).
10:20 pm. 15 minutes before Pete’s flight is due to land from Phoenix. I can pause to scoop my thumping heart from the floor. Plenty of time to fantasize about reunion. Until I see someone from my old work (who, by the way, is not wearing a ‘team building’ t-shirt, either) and spend the entire time chatting to her and her husband. Shelly tells me their boys are arriving from Florida (Petey’s coming! Petey’s coming!); they’ve had a great time (Petey’s coming! Petey’s coming!) and she’s ready to have them home again (Petey’s coming, Petey’s…)
HERE! HE’S REALLY HERE!!!
I spy an ‘Abercrombie’ logo reflected in a glass partition that runs along the arrivals ramp.
I KNOW THAT T-SHIRT! IT’S PETEY!
I KNOW THAT T-SHIRT! IT’S PETEY!
Surely I’ve left participles dangling, conversation hanging, as I shuffle/run, in my small, clickey heels to Pete. He’s barely descended the ramp when I fling my arms around him and bury my head in his neck. I inhale his familiar scent. I’m comforted. “I am sooo happy to see you!” I gush.
Time stops. No one exists in this airport terminal but me and Pete. Pete and me. A single moment –eternity –fuses and suspends us.
Pete cradles my face between warm, sturdy fingers. He kisses me on the lips. And again.“I’m really glad to see you, babe. You look lovely. I missed you, too.”
I return my face to Pete’s neck, wrap my arms around his back like a baby chimp clinging to a tree, and sob. I’m so relieved. I can breathe. I never want to be apart again. Not like this. Not for so long. That was insane. I don’t want to be without you. Ever. Oh my God – what am I thinking? Tying myself to another man? Another human? You knew this. Your heart anchored itself to this particular ship long before your head knew what happened.
We walk to my van, load Pete’s single carry-on bag and shopping tote, and head for home. I’m ready to show my partner my America. Right after I feed him pumpkin pie and crawl into his arms on a bed that finally, we share.
|Concert at Northern Quest|