Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Flying Home

In the waiting area of gate B58 a beautiful man holds a long, narrow hand over the vacant seat beside him. He looks like an English poet. He tells the man who asked to sit that he is saving the seat for his wife. I watch him and wonder what woman inspired him to love. She returns with Starbucks and I am surprised. She has a long face, a prominent nose and tiny, close eyes that seem too far up her forehead. She reminds me of a troll. I want to ask him, “why her?” Who can say what it is that brings people together? Or, more importantly, what keeps them together?

I went home for my brother’s wedding this weekend. It was beautiful to see the threads of this family come together from all over the country. The tapestry that binds us together. In my urban life I think I am fine. I don’t need anything. And then I am with family like this and I am brought face to face with how acutely lonely the modern career pursuit can be. I find myself wondering why we are all so far apart. Why we live our daily lives without the benefit of each other.

At the reception, I see what keeps my brother and his bride together. She always has a smile for him. He goes out of his way to tell her he loves her. I watch them greet the wedding guests and wonder what that would be like. To find someone who went out of his way. My family indulges me as I offer a poorly thought-out toast to the happy couple. Still they tell me it was moving and made them cry. Maybe it did.

On the plane, the beautiful man now sits across the aisle. He smiles at me once. I smile back. He looks away. As he should. He touches his wife’s back. She does not respond. No warming to his hand, curling into his touch. I imagine the marriage is not turning out the way the beautiful man once hoped.

I took the back roads out to my brother’s rehearsal. “I remember the way,” I’d cavalierly told him. “See you there.” The wedding was taking place at an outdoor amphitheater where we’d grown up seeing concerts. As I rolled out of our mountain town I realized I had no idea about the right streets. I drove into the open scrub land flanked by towering rocks and lit by dramatic storm clouds. I felt a stab of that exquisite pain that comes from knowing you’ll never have enough time with beauty. This is the land that made me, I thought. I’d forgotten how beautiful it was. How could I forget? Lost in the reverie of home, I arrived at the rehearsal without a single false turn.

I lean my head back into the plane seat and feel the poke of bobby pins from the day-old up-do I wear like a badge of honor. I have been to a place of love, it says. I know people who love truly and they are part of me. It dawns on me I am never as alone as I pretend with so much love just a phone call away. I look at the bridal bouquet that I caught. Squashed into my carry-on. I try to believe in it.

The small plane banks over LA. It’s golden hour. Everything is flush with the veneer of perfection and possibility. I look back across the aisle at the beautiful man and the troll wife. Together they are watching the city grow larger beneath us. She nods and speaks softly as he points out landmarks. It hits me. Marriage is simply deciding yes, no matter what. And re-deciding every day.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Kid Sis said...

Beautiful!

I hope some of my exes end up with troll wives. Nah, me leaving them was curse enough, right?

2:22 AM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Exactly! I love it.

10:03 AM  

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