After I finished putting back on my clothes and accessories, and repacking my carry on items, I started speed walking down the long terminal hall to my gate. After realizing I was going the wrong way and turning back, I mounted the conveyer belt walkway in order to double my time. Today I didn't even experience the almost undeniable urge to get on the conveyer moving opposite and spend the next half an hour walking against the tred, trying to make it to the other side. I dismounted the first conveyer but still had three to go, in the twenty or so feet to the next expressway I managed to pass an "important" business man who's rather vocal phone conversation was blocking the way. As most of his attention was payed to his conversation, or at least to getting others to pay attention to his conversation, he didn't see the end of the conveyer line coming and tripped as he came off. On the inside I was laughing hysterically and pointing my finger right in his face, on the outside I half murmured, "woops, you ok man?" In return he gave me a dirty look, what a dick.
I sped walked to the next expressway and as I got on I could feel my hip buzzing as I received a call. I figured it must have been my girlfriend, I had yet to speak to her today, which was odd because we're pretty good about talking throughout the day. The fact that she had a night on the town with some friends the night before was even more nerve racking, and as soon as I reached for my phone all the day's feelings of worry and doubt, which I had managed set aside while working my way through the airport labyrinth, came back full swing.
I can't stress the importance of communication for a long-distance relationship, it really is all you have to connect with. That and your imagination, which can often be quite devious. Since I moved out to San Francisco we had done pretty well in that department, finding time throughout the day and taking the better part of our evenings to talk about our lives. I didn't care that my co-workers gave me such a hard time about it, or my bi-monthly trips back to Chicago to visit her. She was the one for me, and I was willing to do anything to keep our relationship strong. Today, however, the last time I talked to her was a text she sent last night at 3am her time, letting me know she was on her way home and would call me tomorrow. Now it's half passed six in the evening and fifteen minutes before I'm am meant to be on a plane heading her way; I answered the phone trying to hide my annoyance.
"Hey babe." I said, there was silence on the other end of the phone.
"Hello, you there?" I looked at the phone to make sure I was still connected and had a signal, everything looked good on my end.
"Hey..." She finally answered, I detected a slight break in her voice, and wondered if she had been crying.
"What's up, how are you feeling?" I prompted her.
She cleared her throat and said she was doing ok, that last night she had overdone it with the drinking but was feeling a lot better. The stress and tension of the day started to give way to relief as her explanation calmed the wild scenarios of my imagination. She asked what I was up to, I reminded her that I was at the airport on my way to see her, that I'd be in Chicago in a few hours. She seemed surprised to hear this, at first that I was coming at all, then she recovered by saying she didn't realize what time it was. I wasn't paying attention as the end of the conveyer approached and tripped as I dismounted the expressway. The dick business man gave me a snooty look as he breezed past. Son of a bitch.
I composed myself and continued to the next conveyer.
"Is everything alright babe?" I asked looking for an explanation as to why she was acting so odd, "You seem... distracted." I added.
Upon asking this she began to sob uncontrollably, I could hear her sniffling and the feedback from her wiping her face, my stomach sunk, I knew this couldn't be good.
"I made a mistake last night," she murmured through her sobs, she took a big breath through her nose then cleared her throat. "It's just, everything is so confusing right now."
I stopped walking, I couldn't feel my feet anymore, I had no idea what any of that meant, so I probed her for further explanation, "Elle, what are you saying?"
"I just... I think you should stay in San Francisco this weekend, I just need some time to think about things."
I moved the phone away from my face and ended the call, I figured she had said all that needed to be said for now. Her picture lingered on the screen for a few more seconds until it gave way to darkness. The darkness entranced me until my muscle memory kicked in and I flipped the phone closed and put it back into my pocket. The expressway ended at an empty gate, I needed to sit down so I walked over and found a seat facing the window, that way I could pretend I was watching the planes land and takeoff.
I was drowning in her words, I could hardly breath or come up for air. What did she mean she made a mistake, and what was she so confused about? All the time we put into our relationship, everything we sacrificed... My thoughts wavered between confusion and anger and a deep sadness I couldn't even begin to comprehend. I had a feeling the sadness was going to stick around for a while. I spent the next two hours staring out that window, at times surrounded by eager travelers fading in and out, yet completely alone with my thoughts.