I met Rebecca 3 years ago on a date. Rebecca has recently made an appearance in my life so I thought I’d re-run this series so everyone won’t have to go back and search for her series to catch up. Enjoy!
Fall of 2016
I solemnly rode the train to Philadelphia International Airport. Rebecca was leaving for South America to work as a nurse overseas to assist in a third world country.
This sucks. I’m having anxiety about all of this. I try to think about the airport as a place and not think about what is about to happen to me. To us.
To most, it’s missed connections and frantic jogs through security. It’s fast food and no outlets. But to me, an airport is one of the most romantic of places. Yes, I will admit, I have a love affair with airports. The romance of an airport is unlike any relationship I’ve had with other places.
The magical lights of the departure airline lists. The scrolling list of the television, filled with exotic locations – so many of which remain unexplored by my own two feet. “Departing,” “boarding,” “delayed.” Three words that bring a rush of energy coursing through my veins, each specialized and unique than the next. The sorted lines at security that empty out into the faraway destinations, some a skip away and others thousands of miles away.
I look to the woman ahead of me in line and I wonder, to where is she going? To the family of four, I ask, are they vacationing or leaving for a new life? And to the quiet, elderly man, I question, is he saying hello or goodbye? The romance of an airport is the diversity of the people that encompass it. The ethnicities, the religions, the ages, the families, the solo travelers, the young, the old, the excited and the anxious. All of which must go through the same lines as myself, and all of which await their adventures. The romance of an airport is that it is a microcosm of civilization. It is a glimpse of the greater world.
Each airport I’ve visited all share the same quality, they are a place of transition. No one stays, everyone leaves. Just like me. I will corner myself in a comfortable seat, next to the husband and wife double checking their seat assignments. I will put on my headphones and anticipate my upcoming adventure. But I, like everyone else, will depart.
But to see each person, in their vivid, bold realities – whether living through a nightmarish layover or seeing the glimmer in their eyes as they look forward to beginning a new chapter – it’s romantic.
The next time you enter the airport, remind yourself of these romantic notions. The romance of an airport is present when you look for it. Savor the (hopefully) short amount of time you have in a place as alluring, diverse and transitionary as this.
But as usual, I digress…
I’ve found that like my father, when I’m facing anxiety, I focus on something other than the current dilemma.
But as I step from the train and begin to make my way towards the terminal, the old feelings creep back in like black serpents.
I think about how before 9/11 one could walk all the way to the gate where the plane was boarding.
Now, you can get as far as the waiting area, and that’s it. No more can you embrace your friends and family and watch them walk through that little tunnel onto the awaiting jet.
The jet. That flying bus that takes your loved ones from you. That bad restaurant at 20,000 feet in the sky that serves tiny bags of pretzels and cups of soda.
I was always terrified of flying. Well, to be fair, I was always terrified of anything new and different my whole life. That’s the curse of having anxiety. But back in the early 2000’s I worked as a consultant and had to fly all over the country for work and became quite good at it all. It just goes to show, that if you have fear about something the best thing to do is to walk towards it over and over, and after awhile you’ll see it’s not so bad after all. Look at all of the idiots that fly all the time and nothing happens.
But today isn’t like those other times.
I text Rebecca.
She responds immediately.
She gives me her location and I approach. I see her across the busy waiting area. She’s sitting there with another girl who I assume is a nurse too. They’re chatting and looking at their phones.
Rebecca hasn’t seen me yet.
I take a moment to think about who this woman is to me.
We met on a Tinder date. It was lovely. I see her and then I don’t see her. She drifts in and out of my life like the turning seasons. She’s so much younger than me. So what else is new? I always end up with these young beautiful women. It’s my curse. I fall in love with them and they with me. (Or, what I represent) But all of these stories end the same way. My own madness. They all grow out of me. They all move forward in their lives with what they perceive they should do and the learned choices they should make. They all eventually want to marry and have a family with a loving husband. I’m almost always that guy… but only almost. Almost honest. But never really.
I look upon her from a distance. She’s so beautiful. So alive. So full of hope and time.
Me on the other hand, I’m running out of time. I’ve had all of the love, relationships, sex, fun, laughs, break ups, and divorce. Who am I kidding? This could never work. This will never work. Rebecca will go the way of Alis, Michelle, Annabelle and probably Cherie. They all end the same. My madness drives me to make the same mistake over and over again.
But I’m addicted to the drug of love and romance. To me it’s better than sex. Romance is the best part of any relationship. At least for me. After that I lose interest. Like a lion after a kill. The hunt is everything.
Annabelle had cleared the cache for me to ever invest myself with anyone ever again. It all seemed a waste of time.
The tide rolls in full of life’s bounty, and then is ground into sand by the powerful waves of reality.
But with Cherie I was ready. I went into that relationship fully prepared with a safe exit strategy. I never did that before.
My father once told me that if I ever got into a relationship with a woman, I should always have a way to get out of it.
What an asshole.
But he was right. At least for me. I never believed his words, but I do now.
But Rebecca has a certain something that I find intriguing. There’s just something about this rare bird that’s simply different. She evokes a certain dark attraction unlike other women I’ve known. It’s not anything unusual… just different.
I’m old and experienced enough to know myself and my feelings. At my age, I know it’ll probably go down like the rest of my failed relationships. But in reality, I feel that in this moment, I may have lost an opportunity to do what I usually do and fail again.
Could the going of Rebecca be the thing that finally cures me from getting mixed up with all of these mixed up young girls?
She’ll get on a plane and leave the country and in a month or two forget all about me. She’ll be in a totally different place and time and I’ll be left back here in Philly. Just grinding away at what’s left of my life.
She’ll save me by leaving now instead of eventually leaving me later.
I’ve had all of the romance and courtship with her and now she’s decided to get away from me by leaving the country.
But that’s not entirely true. She’s young and has a wonderful opportunity to do some good in the world. I can’t make this about me. She’s not leaving me. She’s just going forward with her life. She has to do that. I did the same thing at her age. I went to California to play rock and roll.
I can’t stand here and agonize over this.
I have to go over to her and say goodbye.
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