Wednesday, May 4, 2011

190. High and Lows

The airport is both my favorite and my least favorite place in the entire world. When I fly to London or Cayden flies to Dallas, the day the plane touches down is the highest of all highs. Smiles couldn't be bigger, outlooks couldn't be more positive, the seconds couldn't pass slower as we count down until our eyes meet again and our bellies erupt with butterflies.

And the days we have to say our goodbyes, well, as you know, those days are the lowest of all lows. Tears couldn't be bigger, outlooks couldn't be more mopey, and the seconds fly by as the clock counts down to the time we have to pry ourselves apart and our hearts break for the umpteenth time.

But we don't have to worry about that right now, because today's post is about one of those high days. My low day was just yesterday, so I'm crying while I write this, but I'll do my best to take you back to Friday, April 22nd, the day Cayden landed in Dallas.

I had the day off work for Good Friday. I spent the morning running around like a crazy person, trying to make sure everything was perfect for his visit. I shaved my legs, straightened my hair, then got back in the shower to shave because I thought I missed a spot, then restraightened my hair because it got frizzy during my second shower.

I decided on a pair of jean shorts and a low-cut, olive green and white striped spaghetti strapped shirt. Then I switched to jeans because I didn't like how my thighs flattened and turned into giant sloppy pancakes when I sat down in my jean shorts. I went with bronze toned makeup to enhance my new spring tan, which also meshed well with my new rose gold Fossil boyfriend watch.

I spritzed the perfume Cayden bought me on my chest and wrists. I was ready to take on the day.

Two problems: We were hosting a big backyard barbecue later that night and we didn't own any patio furniture and we hadn't mowed our grass since we'd moved in. In fact, it looked like it hadn't been mowed since Summer 2010. The tall weeds hid dog poop and lord only knows what else. Half-dead unidentified plants crawled up our fence and spilled over the back side. It was the only way to identify which garage was ours when we came in through the back: Our fence was the only one with a mass of brownish twigs dangling down to the street.

My mission for the morning was to find a lawn mower and patio furniture before I picked Cayden up. My search began at 12:00. I had to leave to pick Cayden up at 2:00. Plenty of time, right? Wrong.

I started at my next door neighbor's house to ask if he had a lawnmower.

"I sure don't. I think everyone on this street uses the lawn service. But if I had one, I'd gladly lend it to you."

He was the sweetest man I'd ever met, and I was half temped to ask if he had some spare lawn furniture laying around I could borrow. Next step: Craigslist. I found a lawnmower in McKinney and a patio furniture in Keller. Problem was, I only had my tiny Infiniti G35 to haul things. Oh, and I didn't have time to hit up McKinney or Keller.

Craigslist led me to a weird warehouse in Addison called 7 Day Weekend. The front half of the store looked like your typical thrift store, if not a little more crowded. I brushed my fingers against dressers, corduroy chairs, dining room tables. No patio furniture in site.

"Sir, would you happen to have any patio furniture?" I asked a man who appeared to be on the clock.

"Let's go check back in the back," he said, leading me through the back doors and into what I can only describe as the setting for the worst episode of Hoarders ever made. The entire warehouse was layered with shit, crap, and junk.

We stepped over piles of dolls with their heads ripped off and broken playground furniture on the way to the left wall. The man threw pots tattered robes out of the way to clear a path.

"You know, that's OK," I said, "I think I remember I have some furniture I can use."

I needed an escape route. It was 500 degrees in the warehouse and I was grateful for my sinus infection so I couldn't smell what was sure to be the smell of death. I passed an old toaster oven with a hot pocket still inside on my way out. I felt like I needed a third shower.

And where do you go when Craigslist and a sketchy warehouse fail you? Big Lots.

I'm not going to lie; I kind of love Big Lots. I always find a giant clock or a piece of wall art I want to buy that I don't even kind of need when I go in there. Or maybe a new set of shot glasses or a giant cooler? Hell, they have everything!

Well, everything except a lawn mower. But I did find myself torn between two patio sets. It was 1:45. I had to make a decision, stat. One was plain looking, just a round glass table with four chairs, but I liked the price tag ($130). The other one was beautiful: marbled concrete tiles atop a thin iron frame and four tan chairs. The pricetag wasn't as fun ($180). Unfortunately, it was crunch time, and crunch time calls for big price tags.

Somewhere in my brilliant thinking, I forgot about the whole tiny-car problem. How was I going to fit a big table and four chairs in my Infiniti?

"Oh, we can do it," the big, black, tattooed Big Lots employee answered.

Who knew a car called Infiniti could be so limiting? We tried everything. We put both of my front seats all the way back and shouldered the 80-pound box in though the passenger door. We pushed and pulled and grunted. Low-cut shirts, 90-degree weather with 100 percent humidity, and heavy lifting do not go together.

In the end, I had to abandon the table and chairs and head to the airport. I'd deal with the chairs later.

I wished I'd given myself enough time for another shower, but a whore's bath in the airport was going to have to do. I rolled both windows down and opened my sunroof and prayed I'd be sweat-free by the time I got to the airport.

Usually when Cayden flies to Dallas he connects in Houston. But for this trip his connection was in Germany. I'd rushed to the airport not realizing I was going to have extra time to wait while he went through customs and immigration. And I wasn't going to get to meet him at baggage claim, like I usually did. I'd have to wait behind the steel barrier everyone else waiting for their international traveler to walk through the automatic doors.

I tried to wait patiently, but failed miserably. I stared at the automatic doors, begging them to open.

Every time the doors opened, my heart skipped a beat. I scanned the faces of the exhausted travelers, and when I saw that none of them were Cayden, I went back to my impatient stance: arms crossed, eyes straight ahead, shifting my weight from one foot to the other. My asthma decided that would be a good time to be a little bitch. I couldn't take full breaths. I wheezed when I tried. My heart couldn't decide if it wanted to beat slowly or quickly or skip beats altogether.

I tried not to watch the travelers as they were greeted by their families. Just thinking about it made my eyes well up with tears.

"Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!"

Two small kids ran from one end of the aisle to the other to greet their dad as he walked through the automatic doors. They climbed up his arms and kicked their feet with excitement. Tears sprung from my eyes. I wiped them away as quickly as I could. I looked away and tried to take deep breaths.

His flight had landed 30 minutes before, and still no sign of him. I wanted to jump over the steel barricade and run through the doors to go find him.

Another couple reunited and embraced and my tears started flowing again. I was going to look like shit by the time he got there.

An hour had passed. What if something had happened? Cayden told me he was going to take a lot of sleeping pills on the flight so he'd be well rested by the time he got here. What if he overdosed? What if they couldn't wake him up? How would they know to contact me? I did see an ambulance with its lights flashing on my way in.

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