As I sat on the brick steps smoking my third cigarette, I carefully went over all of my possible options in my head. I could knock. He might answer. He might not. If he didn’t, I would think he was at home and just avoiding me. His dog would bark if I knocked a second time. If he was asleep, the bark would wake him. I could text or call him to let him know I was outside his place. That might make me look desperate. I was beginning to think that I was. What if he had another woman over? Or worse, what if he didn’t  – what if he was alone and just didn’t want to see me? I could hear footsteps inside. For a moment I decided that this meant he was definitely home. It didn’t though. It could just be his large dog, Chuck. My stomach was suddenly in knots. I really loved Chuck. 

       I had always let Nick get away with much more than he deserved to, simply because I couldn’t bear the possibility of tainting our relationship to the point where I could no longer see Chuck. Chuck liked me, too. More than all of the other girls who stayed over at Nick’s place on a regular basis, I was sure. He didn’t bark whenever he saw me approaching through the permanently foggy front windows. He never failed to lick my face. It was kind of disgusting. I didn’t care. Nick loved Chuck as much as I did. He respected Chuck’s opinion. Maybe if he saw how much his beloved dog adored me, he would begin to adore me too. I knew that wasn’t true. But it was a lovely thought. 

       On my fourth cigarette, I walked around the back to where Nick usually parked his black BMW 3 series to see if it was there. Even if it was, that didn’t necessarily mean that he was home. But there it was. That shiny black car which I tried so hard not to be attracted to. It was an inanimate object. But it was pretty. It didn’t have feelings. It was incapable of hating me or thinking I was nuts. I knew I probably would never sit in its leather passenger seat again. I stroked it. Oh my god. It was after midnight, I had sweat dripping in between my breasts, and I was stroking a car that didn’t even belong to me.

        I was on the side of his house now. I could hear that the TV in his bedroom was on. He was home. I wondered for a moment how things had gotten to that point. Instead of lying beside him in his California King, I had been behaving like a stalker outside of his place for forty-five minutes. I began pacing. I needed to get out of there before he heard me. If I had only left then, he’d never have known I had been there at all. He would never truly know the level of crazy I was capable of. The sensible thing for me to do was to leave right then. 

       But true to my character, I didn’t do the sensible thing. I never did. I lit a fifth cigarette and sat back down on the brick front steps. They were so fucking clean. He must have gotten them cleaned professionally. He would, I thought. Old brick should never be quite so red and scuff-free. It didn’t look right. Fake, almost. The bricks of his front steps looked fake. Fake brick. Who would choose to have fake brick? Real brick is cheap, it’s sturdy. What were they, plastic? Jesus. It was 12:33 am. 

        I knew Nick’s routine well. He typically came outside sometime between 12:15 and 12:45 to have one last cigarette and let Chuck out before heading to bed. I knew he would be coming out soon. He would find me sitting there like a desperate and crazy ex-girlfriend. Except I wasn’t an ex-girlfriend. I was just a slightly buzzed ex-something who was beginning to lose her senses. He would nearly trip over me, probably. Fuck. My heart started racing. It was my last chance to leave, to run away. To not be found out. I could go on and pretend like this had never happened. But I stayed. I consciously chose to stay on those plastic-looking brick front steps for a little bit longer. I knew then that I was out of my god damned mind. At least I knew it. 




      Takeoffs and landings. Arrivals and departures. Escaping from one thing only to find another thing to need or want escaping from. Always leaving one place, one mood, only to inevitably arrive at yet another. Often I found myself not wanting to leave where I was, not because I liked it, but because I didn’t want to have to arrive anywhere else. Geographically, emotionally, metaphorically. It was the leaving and the arriving that were exhausting. The staying was easy. Tormenting, but easy. 

        The airport was a lot like life. Surrounded by selfish jerks and beautifully insane people. Frantic people, lost people, angry people, hungover people. People in sweatpants and Birkenstocks. People wearing inflatable pillows around their necks which they probably spent thirty dollars on. Everyone was in transit. Airports were the pauses. The spaces between one place and another. My life felt like one big in-between. The trouble was, I never knew what exactly it was that I was stuck between. I only knew that my flight definitely did not depart when I had planned for it to. That’s alright though. No one was expecting me. 

         Being inside of a city’s airport does not mean you have been to that city. No one ever goes to the airport who isn’t coming from some place or leaving to go someplace else. Or waiting. Some just wait. Some are irritated and tired and want nothing more than to be back home. Some are excited, going away from home, leaving the place they hate the most. Escaping their mundane existence to live a fantasy for a week, or maybe forever. There are too many rules. Too many staring contests. Too much sleep. Not enough rest. Some are traveling to places they don’t want to go to see people they don’t want to see. Business meetings. Funerals. Weddings. Honeymoons. Family emergencies. Family vacations. Surgeries. Wanderlust. Everybody has a story. And everybody thinks they’re more important than everybody else. Some stories aren’t worth telling. Mine certainly wasn’t.

         Some people wait patiently for the late flights carrying the ones they like to think are the loves of their lives. Precious cargo. The women fix their makeup in the airport bathrooms, trying way too hard to look their idea of perfect for the one they’re waiting for. He doesn’t even care what she looks like. He’s just happy to be off that plane and in her arms, and is looking forward to sleeping in his own bed. He doesn’t say anything to her about it, but really, really hopes that he is coming home to clean sheets. 

        Some search desperately for for an iPhone 5 charger, asking each person they pass by. Even if I had mine on me, I would always shake my head “no” when someone asked. Taking in the real world is so much better than staring at a screen, even if the only world you can see is the inside of an airport. Maybe if I didn’t loan them my charger, they would figure that out. Probably not. Some needed to get drunk or take more than the recommended dose of sleeping pills in order to fly. Admittedly, sometimes I was one of those. 

         He opted for the ‘pat-down’ at the airport because he believed the scanning machines would cause cancer. I think he read that on the internet somewhere. Everything causes cancer these days. I’d rather take the risks than be touched by a middle aged and overweight white man with crooked glasses and neck acne. If I avoided everything in the world that somebody told me causes cancer, I wouldn’t do anything ever. Someday, they’re going to try and tell us that sex causes cancer. Everyone who has sex sometime in their lives will eventually get cancer, if they live long enough. Will everyone stop having sex then? No. Confirmation bias. Well, he could go ahead and avoid all cancer-causing things, but I would enjoy my microwaved food, my cigarettes, my beer, my life without pat-downs at the airport. 

         I began to think that it didn’t matter who I was spending my time with – I would become sick of them more easily and more rapidly than is considered ‘normal’. He thought I was walking away, but I wasn’t. I was running away, as quickly as I could. I was running like hell. I was running like hell through the airport, and it looked suspicious.