Tuesday, November 9, 2010

118. Curbside Pick-up

"Whitney, can you copyedit this before you go?" Al asked, dropping a 2-inch-thick folder on my desk. It was a feature story for our December issue.

"Surely," I said, plastering a reassuring smile on my face until he walked away.

I checked the clock on my computer. It was 2:20. Cayden would be landing at 3:24. Holy time crunch. I closed out of all the other programs on my computer to eliminate distractions and took out my trusty red pen. I opened the folder and forced myself to concentrate. I cleared my head of thoughts of Cayden in my bed wearing nothing but his snug boxer briefs.

Then I lost myself in commas, em dashes, subject-verb agreements, and all things AP Style. I read a sentence. Then reread the sentence. Then broke it down word by word, checking spelling and looking for that random, unnecessary additional space that sneaks in after the period and before the beginning of the next sentence. I forgot about flights, British accents, future love making, sweaty six packs, and red wine.

If people walked by my desk, I didn't see them. If I had emails gathering in my inbox, I didn't notice.

I inserted my last comma and closed the folder. Then I shot my head up in a panic. How much time had passed? Had I zoned out for an hour? Had Cayden been calling me repeatedly but I couldn't hear it because I'd silenced my phone? Was he stranded somewhere wondering if I'd forgotten about him? I shook my computer mouse until my screen woke up. What seemed like 30 seconds later, the time updated itself and I saw that it was 3:07. I threw my pen back into my cupholder and ran-walked over to Al's desk.

"All yours!" I said, dropping the folder and run-walking away before he could ask me to do anything else. I grabbed my purse and put my computer to sleep instead of shutting it down because I was too impatient. I'd brought my make-up bag so I could refresh in the bathroom before leaving, but there wasn't time. I'd have to do some touch ups in the car on the way there.

I'd never driven to Dallas Love airport before, so I didn't know exactly where it was or how long it would take to get there. I'm way too reliant on my phone's GPS system, so when it fails me I have serious freak-outs. Luckily, technology was on my side that day, so I didn't have to break down in tears and threaten to throw my phone at the next passing car to watch it shatter to a million pieces. (I've had that feeling more than a healthy amount of times.)

I'd planned on parking in a parking lot or parking garage so I could walk inside and meet Cayden at baggage claim, but the signs I'd followed took me to a curbside pick up. I pulled up alongside the terminal at precisely 3:22. I took out my makeup bag and touched up my eyeliner and added a fresh layer of lip gloss. Then I wiped the lipgloss off because I figured Cayden wouldn't want gooey lips on his. Actually, he probably wouldn't care. I popped in a new piece of Trident Cinnamon gum, and then I saw something out of the corner of my eye that stopped me mid-chew.

It was Addam. Or at least it looked like Addam. He was Addam's height, same dark brown hair and scruffy facial hair. He had his fists shoved into the pockets of his zip-up hoodie, just like Addam always did. But he was too far away for me to see the details of his face. His navy blue hoodie looked a lot like the one I'd bought him when I was in Seaside, Florida, but I couldn't quite see if it said "Seaside" on the front.

He was leaning up against the wall with an oversized black duffle bag, waiting for his ride. I squinted my eyes to try to see if I could see better. Did he have Addam's dimples? Wait, maybe this guy was a little heavier than Addam. Wasn't Addam in Iraq anyway?

I shook my head and looked away, but couldn't stop checking to see if he was still there. A few times it looked like he was staring at me, but I knew he couldn't see me in my car. My phone rang and I almost shit my pants.

It was Cayden.

"Hey!!" I nearly yelled into the phone.

"Hey baby, where are you?"

"I'm outside, parked along the curb. Sorry I can't come in to meet you, but I couldn't figure out how to park in the lot."

"Oh don't worry, I already have my bag. I'm heading outside now."

His accent had the same effect on me it always did. It made me smile and I didn't even notice I was smiling until my cheeks ached. It made me calm and excited at the same time. I kept my car running, but I stepped out of the car so he'd be able to find me.

That's when I noticed the Addam lookalike had vanished. Or had he ever been there at all? Surely I wasn't losing my mind.

Cayden walked through the doors with a backpack slung over one shoulder and a ridiculously big rolling bag dragging behind him. I forgot all about the Addam, the real one and the imaginary one. All I saw was Cayden. I wanted to run up to him, but I had a strange fear that someone would jump in my car and take off with it. So I did a weird stutter step, wanting to move toward him, but keeping within reach of my car. My cheeks ached so I knew my huge grin was in full bloom. He quickened his pace and within seconds he was in front of me.

I wrapped my arms around him, snaking them underneath his backpack so I could pull him toward me. He dropped his rolling bag at his side.

"Finally," he said, one hand on my cheek, he bent down to kiss me. Butterflies and hummingbirds and circus monkeys came to life in my stomach. If it had been a scene in a movie, the camera would have switched to slow motion, circling us slowly to catch every angle. Think the pitcher's mound kiss in Never Been Kissed. Oh, and there probably would have been some kind of backlighting, and angels voices singing "ahhhhhhhh."

I pulled away and slapped him in his stomach.

"What was that for?" he asked, laughing and trying to catch his breath.

"For lying! You said 6 and a half weeks would be easy!"

He pulled me in for another kiss and our bodies were too close for me to wind up for a good punch to his perfect abs.

OK, he was forgiven.

He tossed his giant bag into my backseat and slid into the front.

I merged back into traffic and found my way back to Mockingbird Lane without pulling out my GPS. I gave myself a pat on the back, but then kicked myself for not thinking about the 25 school zones I'd be driving through at 3:30.

"So, what's the plan for tonight?"

"Red wine and delivery. We're staying in," I said with a knowing smile.

"Perfect," he said squeezing my thigh.



  1. awee that picture is so cute! you two remind me of myself and my boyfriend when we reunite at either his or my airport <3