I read somewhere that when you think there is no love in the world you should go to the airport. Love is all around us every day, we step over it, we misplace it, we even take it for granted but at the airport it's difficult to do that. Airports are places we say good bye and then places where we are reunited with people we've missed (and isn't seeing someone you've missed oh so sweet?). I can remember sobbing unconsolable in an airport long before Richie was born in LA knowing I'd never see the blond skiing lover again only to run into him years later in San Francisco wishing I hadn't. And I found myself at the airport, a kind of an airport, people coming and going, looking, moving on and finding adventure. For the past few weeks I have been struggling, kicking back the blues trying to figure out what is missing, I was negotiating a deal in my head sure that if I struck the right balance I could satisfy something broken in me and not risk the space of comfort I had established. I was a hunter, Artemis, again.
I will tell you that I can't remember the first thing he said to me to get my attention. I can tell you that the ease with which he shared himself was alarming. As a woman I tend to be more comfortable around men that are nervous or fidgeting or wary of me. I think the really brave women seek out those that are comfortable with themselves because they aren't going to be injured with a jab when we feel defensive, even the subtle jabs. He carried a log book so I surmised he was a traveling salesman or a pilot. He was a pilot and I was certain someone who had been in the service or was. They never lose the haircut. My father was a marine until the day he died. I remember as a child finding his uniform and putting it on, thinking I'd wear it for halloween only to be scolded and reminded that I hadn't earned the right to wear that uniform and that if I touched it again I would be very sorry I had.
Surrounded by people, by noise, by the comings and goings of life; he told me about flying. "aren't you ever afraid?" I asked. Driving a car was difficult for me, so flying seemed impossible. Best Friend is very nervous about flying, I love it. I didn't really give a thought until now how it had worked, only knew there would be adventure at the other side, a land unexplored, someone or something waiting for me, toe tapping. "The white clouds are exciting, it's the dark clouds that will break your plane." They wouldn't wreck your plane I thought later, just break you. You can fix a break, you can't fix a wreck and he was certain there was no situation he couldn't fix, you can break a leg you can't wreck a leg. Dark clouds are like dark men, they too will break you.
Behind every set of eyes there is a story. These days my story was sitting too close to the surface and if you poked hard enough a delluge of tears would show up, not out of sadness I haven't had a day of sadness in a very long time. The tears would be frustration, anxiousness and uncertainty. These weren't issues someone could help you through, merely distract you from. When he told me of the colors of the sun, the strips of light and the colors, I wanted to see them, give him another set of eyes so they could transmit the images back and let them sit in my head, to hold the beauty without the risk, impossible. And behind his tender eyes, that story just sitting there a puzzle piece wedged in around others that may fit, but if you closely maybe not. Sitting alone here? he wondered. What's the story? I'd quote the asking part but I can't remember he just knew like someone knows if it's raining. You can't tell someone you are dying just a little. "it's a secret."
We talked of our mothers, missing them. For a moment I imagined my mother arranging this, having tea with his mother, cutting her hair, the two of them baking bread. My mother would pick this one for the same reasons she picked my father years ago. I knew my father had no involvement, he would have picked a guy with a wonky eye to make me comfortable and laughed and laughed. When we were children, camping with my parents my brother and I had gone swimming only to arrive back and the campsite where my father had befriended a group of carnival freaks. He was cooking for them on an open campfire, a lady with a beard, a short man with some problem I did't understand at my young age, a woman large enough to sit on back of my father's truck bed, small people in costumes who flew through the air every night. It was surreal to watch him interract with them like he'd know them a hundred years listening to johnny cash music on an old 8 track player that looked like a stick of dynamite. You had to "set off the bomb" to change tracks. He'd feed them as he thought feeding people was taking care of them. My father was drawn to the unusual he liked the challenge of loving the unlovables.
"So when you are up there and there's trouble (Isn't there always trouble?)," I asked him, "do you have fast anxious thoughts or are you slow and careful when you are in a dark cloud?" I knew the answer before it fell out and of course I was wrong. I can't remember the last time I was surprised by an answer. He told me it was both, but there was a photo quality like snapshots, thinking through things exciting and yet careful at the same time. Sitting there with him was exciting and yet careful and the little snapshots of his life were sitting on my lap like polaroids, the images of his mother laughing wondering if her hair was dark like his or blonde and whispy. When he was talking I thought that if we left here we could travel up to the big lake where you can feel very small. We could make a big red kite, write all those little troubles that were biting at me, his oh so beautiful girlfriend, my oh so powerful boyfriend and what to do with them, to ponder the next step. I'd jot my fears of summer making you old, he'd write a secret thought he hadn't shared with anyone else and we'd let the line run out flying so fast through our fingers it would cause a cut, the blood tasting sweet like melted licorce.
He held out his hand
"If you put your secret here I'll take it flying with me and when I am twisting between the ribbons of white I will throw it there and you'll be free of it."
"It's fire and will burn your hand."
"No, it won't. You've made that part up in your head. Nothing you do can hurt me."
"How would you know that? I've caused hurt."
"You don't know me but you should listen to me, especially about this."
I thought on it over what seemed days. When you are figuring your life days can pass in an instant or each day can be a year and I could hear emily in my head she had the voice of an old librarian, slow and methodical (If you were coming in the fall I'd brush the summer by with half a smile an half a spurn as housewives do a fly. If you were coming in a year i'd wind the months in balls, putting them in their separate drawer until their time befalls) A few days I found myself sitting there again, in the same outfit, sipping the same diet coke, listening to my ipod humming a little thinking: some day I will be born.
This time his face seemed closer. Objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer but when they are striking the windshield they really are closer. We spoke of first kisses that tasted like lemon and the mysterious boy who would show up at my house late into the night not afraid of my father warrior, taking me walking until the wet from the grass made my feet ache in my white Keds a little. Oh to be that girl again, to feel lips brush my young lover's for the first time. I'd like to build a time machine and be in Kentucky watching him kiss this girl seeing him smile a few moments later when he'd walk away from her knowing it was the best day yet and being near the street lamp down the block on Mayfield kissing my first true romance and not wanting it to ever end thanking the night, seeing him in school the next day wanting it to be dark. I picked the home coming dress with more thought than that some women pick their wedding dress. A pleaser to the point of exhaustion.
Oh gods his hand was there again, this time balancing on my knee, palm up and I looked at each finger a few times.
"terrified." His eyes said, of course it's supposed to be like that, even a little bit of a smile that if we hadn't talked of mothers and kisses and the tender mercies of love I would have taken as a sarcasm.
"I want to believe you."
I closed my eyes and could picture letting him drive in the snow, knowing we didn't even need to drive in the snow. We could stay in, I could make an excuse. I make excuses all the time not to be here or there and the people who love me understand or pretend to understand. The snow would melt in a few days and nobody would miss us. We could play scrabble and he could tell me about flying. I'd show him my scar and he'd tell me about longing. Or he'd show me his scar and I'd tell him about longing. There was no telling, no play book and if there was a log book he wasn't giving a hint. Play your hands close to your chest darling otherwise I will have figured all this out and the last thing sitting in that oh so confident hand will be my secret.
I went home and drew a map. From midway you drive south down Cicero to 79th street, west, a right to Mayfield, past the place I grew up until the end of the block a quick right and the street lamp, now older overlooking a new school but most of the same houses. I left the map at the airport, where I had been sitting. I waited until dark and went the house, sat on the curb, it belonged to another family now, another set of dreams. Out of the sky there was a whoosh that sounded almost like a storm. In the middle of the street landed a plane, certainly a surprise and quite out of place. I lived here almost half my life and nothing like this had ever happened. The most exciting thing that happened was the stoner girl down the block who fell out of the second story window or when I hit Jimmy Mandernack in the head with a lunchbox full of rocks because he bullied my little brother.
The door opened and he just fell out like he'd done this a thousand times and then some.
"Carrie, cmere" he held out his hand again and this time I wasn't going to hesitate. "You can't leave that here," I was pointing to the plane.
"Why don't you let me worry about that." this time his smile was large amused with my astonishment.
We walked quietly, I didn't lead. When we approached the corner he pulled me to him and he kissed me hard. I just had to close my eyes and let go. The ground opened up and I fell through for a few moments and I could feel the air flying through my hair and he caught me, whispered to open my eyes and see all the cloud cover. He carried me back down the block and put me in the grass and the plane was gone.
When I turn on the bat signal he won't show up right away. But when I am in the studio working, when the little gray cat is in my lap sipping an ice coffe; I'll hear the whoosh. I can glance up and there in the driveway with no end and there will be the plane. This will cause me to squeal like a little girl. Soon we'll be in my room at the top of the stairs. It will be quiet and in one pinch he will pop off my bra and every time he smiles he looks 17 again. We'll dance and make merry and he'll tell me something I didn't know, just leaving little footprints in the garden so I will be sure later that he was really here.
When someone holds out their hand you can look away.
When someone stands in helpless abandon you can look away.
When someone is hungry you can feed them or you can always look away.
Or you can be a hero.
The path you take is the way you will be rememberd.
You can always reach me at Summerpoet@msn.com and find my work at www.poetsummer.etsy.com.