“No man is ever gonna chase you through an airport,” my mother told me on my 25th birthday.
At the time, it was 25 years that I’d managed to live just fine without you.
“He might wish he could chase you through an airport, you are certainly pretty enough for that. But he won’t dare stand at Gate 16 and lose all his manhood for a girl who’d never stay.”
Little girls learn to suck and swallow their mothers’ words like throat lozenges. You should probably know now, I gritted my teeth into those very words nearly every night of knowing you, wondering in the dark when you’d turn to leave. Turn and slam the door and leave me breathing or maybe some kind of breathless on the other side, saying, “That door has never quite sounded this way before.” Never so hollow. Never so cold.
But my mother was right, because of who I am and what I won’t sacrifice, I’ll be the kind of girl who has to stand at Gate 16, staring down at her shoes, asking a part of her heart if it will still remain when the plane’s wheels kiss Beijing’s runway.
That part of her heart that’s sitting in a window seat right now. Ordering a glass of wine to take the edge off. Inserting ear plugs. Left. Then. Right. That part of her heart that is already learning that holding on was a foolish thought to begin with. That part of her heart that is reversing steps and spelling words backwards: oG reH teL reH TsuJ
I’m about 600 yards away from you right now.
A few gates.
Two security guards.
A couple of steps.
And a long aisle away from you.
It’s not really romantic. I didn’t expect to catch you at the last moment. You are so prompt, so timely, that you make these kinds of “don’t go, hurdling over suitcases in an effort to get to you before the gate closes” kind of scenes impossible.
But I am here, 600 yards away from you. Feeling like I’ve already placed a couple countries between us. Uruguays of Unsaid Words. Senegals of Stupid Fights. Mexicos of Mixed Emotions. Koreas & Chinas & Japans of Where the Heck Did I Go So Wrong?
And I am sorry. Like Africa. Sorry like Montreal. Sorry as the whole Indian Ocean, bloated after swallowing the Pacific for a midnight snack.
Sorry because I don’t need you. I really don’t. And the last thing I want to tell you is that I need you. And so I’ll tell you that I don’t. I. Don’t. Need. You.
Stop, please stop.
Stop and decide to stop right there. Go back on me like a road map that one gave you a hidden turn. Read me one more time; find me in the lines one last time. Find that I don’t mean it, under the apostrophe like rocks in the garden. Climb to the top of the “d” and jump down to the “y,” to see the strength it’s taking me to Slip from my Pride like a Silk Dress and stand Needing before you.
I don’t deserve it. I know. I shouldn’t have you. I get it. I’m barely breathing here. It’s scary. I’d like to walk away. “Like to” is a keyword. I’ll let you down? Probably. You’ll do the same? Surely. But I am better with you. I actually believe that. Better needing you.
And I am standing here. 600 yards away from you.
I didn’t get to chase you through the airport. No hurdling the suitcases to grasp you. But I’d be willing… for the first time, I Am Willing. If you’ll have me.