I sat at my desk tapping my Sharpie pencil (did you know Sharpie makes a PENCIL?) and staring at the clock on the upper-right-hand corner of my computer like a zoned out crackhead. I watched the clock turn from 1:30 to 1:31, but I could have sworn it had been a full five minutes since I watched it turned from 1:29 to 1:30. That's how much of my day had been. I'd planned on being productive, overloading myself with work so I could keep my mind off the fact that Cayden would be landing in Dallas at 2:57 pm. But every time I tried to work on something, my eye caught that damn clock, moving ever so slowly.
Every time I thought about it my stomach dropped like I was riding the Texas Giant at Six Flags over Texas. For those of you who don't know me, I love roller coasters, especially ones with drops so steep you feel your entire ass come off the seat and pray that your lap bar isn't faulty. So it was a stomach-drop of thrill, not one of impending danger.
I'd made sure my apartment looked spic and span before I left that morning. Clean sheets, my bed was made, dishes put away, couch cover tucked in such a way that it almost looked like a real corduroy couch instead of an old hand-me-down in an expensive disguise that slides off and tangles your feet and elbows in the fabric until you get pissed off and opt for the hand-me-down chair that still smells like weed from the neighbor's garage. (I'm not complaining here, if not for the donated furniture my apartment would be completely stocked with plastic inflatable cushions from Dollar General.) I double checked his drawer to make sure everything was in place. Yes, I'd set aside a drawer for him in my room. I filled it with manly toiletries so he could travel light and he wouldn't have to go out smelling like Dove Oil Essentials body wash and Herbal Essence shampoo. I also bought him a toothbrush and black loofah, so he wouldn't have to use my puffy pink one. Also in the drawer was Stephen Hawking's new book The Grand Design. Cayden mentioned how he wanted to read it and it just so happened we had a copy of it at work.
1:32. Arms in the air, stomach drop, scream and feel the lap bar press against my thighs.
I checked his flights status and saw that his plane was now scheduled to land at 2:50. How soon was too soon to leave work? I worked about 30 minutes from the airport, so I knew I had another hour or so to kill. Just then my coworker Price dropped a stack of proofs on my desk.
"All yours. Oh, and I threw Penny's in there, too, because she's out today," he said before walking off. I stared at the glossy pages and tried to calculate how long it would take me to approve them. The calendar made up half of the proofs, and that alone takes a good 45 minutes to look over. Instead of throwing all of them in the air and bolting out of there before they zig-zagged their way to the ground, I decided to be grateful. Now I had something to do to kill the time. I put my computer to sleep so I wouldn't have to watch the clock turn 1:33 in five minutes and zeroed in on my proofs.
I was halfway through the calendar when my executive editor broke my concentration.
"So, huge day, huh?? You found out you won the blog award AND your man is coming today?" he asked, while holding his fist out for a fist bump.
"It's pretty wild!" I said, bumping my balled-up hand against his.
"So, what's the countdown looking like?" he asked.
I shook my mouse to wake my computer up and saw that somehow the clock had fast-forwarded to 2:00.
"Oh man! He lands in less than an hour!"
This realization flung me over the steepest drop of the roller coaster. This time I gripped the lap bar and clenched my teeth.
I approved the proofs in record time and dropped them back at Price's desk before 2:25.
"Well, I'm outta here!" I announced over my cubicle wall.
"Have fun!" "Good luck!" "Bring him to the office tomorrow!" Everyone replied from their three-walled holding cells.
I stopped at the bathroom to freshen up. I'd decided on the Transformer dress and a pair of short brown ankle boots. I tightened the strings under the dress to make it a little less work-appropriate and a little more seeing-my-British-boyfriend-for-the-first-time-in-three-months appropriate. I'd probably get some judgmental stares from the older folks at the airport, but I didn't care. I wore a brown short-sleeved jacket over the tube-topped dress and dangled a brown and gold heart necklace between my boobs. I'd added a headband to my short brown hair to top off the look. A dab of lip gloss and I was ready to go.
My heart thudded the entire way to the airport. I tried to check his flight status on my phone from the highway, but then I envisioned slamming into the car in front of me and getting side swiped by a semi truck, flipping my car nine times before landing on the other side, into oncoming traffic. Not exactly the fairytale ending I was hoping for. I tossed my phone into the passenger seat and focused on my breathing. In. Out. In. Out. In. In. In. Wait, I was forgetting something. OUT.
My iPod was dead and if I heard one more Ke$ha song on the radio I was sure I'd wreck my car on purpose, so I opted for my Tally Hall CD. Tally Hall always calmed me down. My friend Andrew is the keyboardist, and he sings a song called "The Whole World and You," that always put a smile on my face. I sang along, smiling goofily at passing cars.
2:45 I parked my car at the airport. I did one last lip-gloss check and popped a cinnamon Trident gum in my mouth. Then I grabbed my deodorant out of my purse and added a layer for good measure. It was go time. Would he recognize me this time? Would I trip running up to him or knock out an elderly person?
I stepped out of my car and into the humid 98-degree heat. I was almost as grateful for the extra layer of antiperspirant as I was for the fact that yesterday's tornadoes were absent from today's forecast.
I walked into the air conditioned terminal and grabbed a seat with a clear view of the doors he'd be walking through. I sat next to a girl who looked eerily like me, only before I cut my hair. What if Cayden saw her and ran up to her thinking it was me? What if he KISSED HER? I got up from my seat and leaned against the escalator railing closer to the door. Best not to risk it.
It was 2:58. I checked his flight status on my phone and saw that his plane had landed at 2:40. Why hadn't he called? Where was he? Did he even make it on the plane? Had he freaked out during his layover in Chicago and decided to turn back? Did he meet a cute girl on the plane and join the mile-high club? I'd kill her. Then him.
But my fears and anger subsided in less than a second when I looked up and saw Cayden walk through the double doors, his eyes landing directly on me.
The lap bar came loose and I was flying over Texas.