This morning I took Keith to the airport in the absolute black that is four am in the depth of winter. It was freezing cold, I felt my lips turn numb, I felt the cold creep tingling up my spine. At the airport, we hurried inside, to be met with warmth and canned piano music, the audio equivalent of a Monet print. I thought immediately and definitively, "I will hate this music for the rest of my life."
I no longer think so; it wasn't the music that defined the experience; it was the fact that I could get a pass to go through security with him, and wait for his flight to be called. It turned out that what makes my husband an excellent NCO also leaves him liable to arriving three hours early for his domestic flight.
Going through security, he set off the metal detector and grimaced with good nature. We were already the focal point for every one else; the six foot two soldier in those dun colored fatigues which turn his blue eyes a soft green, holding tightly to the hand of a young woman with uncombed hair and bewildered dark eyes.
To be perfectly honest, I was almost resentful of all the quick and inquiring looks; I did not want my very personal crucible be the object of everyone else's romantic speculations. Which is very unfair, because I was perfectly content to accept the attention when picking him up, almost in that very spot, just two weeks earlier.
It turned out that it was his belt buckle that set the alarm off; our whole line drew to a halt as he slid the nylon belt loose and dropped it in the bin. I myself was annoyed at the officious security guard; how dare she question the integrity someone who so obviously risked their life for the security of something so much larger than one airport? But Keith did not seem to mind; he is inured by long experience to the small trials of air travel.
We spent the three hours sitting close together and laughing, of all things. I can no longer remember what exactly we both found so joyful or what exactly we said. I do remember his hand over his eyes while his shoulders shook, and then looking up at me, his eyes full of light. Or how his hand reached for the back of my neck and pulled me roughly to him, so he could kiss my hair.
I found him so incredibly attractive and magnetic that I actually looked around anxiously, to check and see if random females were approaching, zombie like. (Apparently he was only effecting me in this way, as the coast was clear.) He was just so unutterably masculine, with his goodly length of muscled leg sprawled out and his irrepressible and devilish grin.
And then it was time and both of us knew it. He pulled himself together, sat up straighter and looked down at my face. He did not have to say what he was thinking; I knew he was asking me to carry on, so that he in turn could carry on. So I did.
We walked all the way back through the terminal, calmly and almost relaxed and at the end, I turned and he pulled me into his arms and kissed me, slowly and thoroughly, and when he was done kissing me, he said, "I love you; I"ll see you soon," and his voice came out quite like his normal voice.
And I broke down only a little, only enough to send me back into his arms, to stand on tiptoe and kiss him, just because I wanted to feel it one more time, the way it is to kiss him. Then I stepped away and said "I love you," quite composed, and turned, and walked away and I thought, "Don't turn around, don't turn around, don't..." But I did, and I had one more glimpse of his long, straight back, his stride purposeful and impersonal, and then I passed through the entrance way and into a completely altered world.
As I write this, he is somewhere over the Atlantic ocean. I must call his cell phone company tomorrow and shut down his cell phone. While here, he fixed the leaking faucet, all the slow draining sinks, signed me up for garbage removal service and gave me the garage door opener, kicking out the Ford that used to reside there, so I can park my humble and foreign import next to his HD.
When I got home from the airport, I crawled into our bed and the girls both leaped up and arranged themselves around me, as though they knew. After I got up, my parents helped take down all the Christmas decorations and it was no more painful than tearing a band aid off, quick and decisive. I feel none of the dread and grief that so crippled me when he first left.
"This leave has only made us stronger, hasn't it?" he remarked once, a few days before he left. And it is true, it has. We have so much faith now, in each other and in ourselves. I feel the strength in me, entwined all about with my love for him and it makes for a peaceful place to rest in.
So I am in the home stretch now; the long, unbroken days of winter unroll in front of me, and offset by the knowledge that already the days are growing longer. By the time the balance is reached and the night begins again to slowly overshadow the sun, I will be in the glowing green heart of summer; mere months away from seeing my husband again, and this time he will come home to stay.
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