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|Tuesday January 13, 2004 Dream about the days to come|
I imagine that people have been writing songs about having to leave the people they love just about as long as there have been reasons to go and means of transport. Sometimes we sing about leaving, other times about being left. What, really, is a Requiem, if not a song of grief over a journey we cannot share?
Joni Mitchell writes about big yellow taxis taking away her old man. Counting Crows later modified it slightly, and it becomes a boy's sadness when the same taxi takes away his girlfriend.
Close enough for jazz. Not a big yellow taxi, but a shining white Boeing 767. Painted with the logo and colors of Continental Airlines, gleaming in the sunlight that so rarely touches Glasgow, it rolled down the runway and bore away my girlfriend, high into the sky, farther than I could reach. I waved, quietly. Among the saddest parts of today's airline security world is that you can't go with your people to the gate. The farewells therefore always feel painfully false, as though they're somehow unnecessary or at least premature.
We held each other close on the ramp leading to the security checkpoint--it was marked For Passengers Only, but I didn't care--and cried on each other. I always promise myself I'm not going to do that, and then I fall into tears anyway. And why should I not cry? Is my family--for I cried when my parents left, too--not worth the gift of tears? Fear of vulnerability, perhaps, in front of the unknown people at the airport.
I never used to understand why people would cry at airports. I mean, for goodness' sake, you're getting to fly on an airplane. What's not to like? I never flew as a child, except for once in the small prop plane that belonged to a friend of the family. So flight never lost its novelty for me. So I'd see images of people crying in airports, like those in movies, and be confused, because who would cry about something so wonderful as getting to ride on an airplane?
As with so many other things, this changes when you realize that you can't have it both ways, and that on the other side of the door is something you can't bear to let go. That departures mean not only approaching but also leaving. The world becomes a great deal more complex when you have something that's worth too much to lose.
And so we sing songs, or write them, or call them to mind. Some about travel, others about life or love or anything at all, really. "Now Mister Morton is happy, and Pearl and the cat are too--they're the subjects of the sentence, and what the predicate says, they do." I'd never heard that song before you sang it to me, Eliz. I can't make myself listen to the Schoolhouse Rock version, because it won't sound like your voice singing to me as I'm falling asleep.
I stood on that ramp for more than an hour after she left. Security let her through quite quickly, and with an all-too-brief flash of sign language, mimed hugs, blown kisses, and tears, she disappeared into the departure lounge. I moved to the railing and looked out across the tarmac at the airplane, and couldn't stay there just then. I walked to the bathroom, and then to the little airport chapel, which had Qu'rans and Bibles and yarmulkes and prayer rugs and crosses. I was glad it was an empty chapel, as I badly needed a place to be alone just then. I didn't stay long--my head danced with irrational fears, like the fear that Elizabeth's flight would be canceled and she would come running out to meet me only to not find me because I was still in the chapel--but I paused long enough, I suppose.
I went back, hedgehog riding in the left breast pocket of my red shirt, where she put him, and stood on the ramp. I watched as they fueled and loaded that plane, as they tested its ailerons and flaps, as they connected and disconnected the passenger gangway. I'm glad nobody tried to make me move on from the Passengers Only ramp--it was the only place with any view of the plane, and I must have been a sorry sight indeed. In the end, it moved. I ran along, following it, until I could see no more. I watched it take off, though buildingsblocked my sight just after I saw it begin vertical rotation.
The rest of the day has been a bit of a haze. Glasgow feels drab and empty today. My city--my city?--will grow on me again, but I miss having my people.
"Now the time has come to leave you
I blew you kisses and smiles, love. I know you did the same. I'll wait for you, and don't plan on letting go.
With thanks to John Denver.
|Thursday January 15, 2004 Five months|
It's been five months since I got off a plane in Glasgow. I must have learned something since then.
Piobaireachd of the day was The Groat, with Roddy. Then lots of reduced-price things from Sainsbury's. Well, they weren't the piobaireachd of the day. Anyway.
Thoughts about visits from family, of the trying-to-gain-perspective sort. Forming; not yet whole. Perhaps I will write them down sometime.
Celtic Connections is going on. Whee.