Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lucky Duck

New ways I’ve embarrassed myself: In a moment of panic two minutes before the taxi came to carry me away to the airport, I scrawled a love note to Z on the back of a rent-a-car scratch-and-dent checklist and shoved it under his pillow when he wasn’t looking. Surely this is not behavior befitting a middle-aged woman. What if he’s repulsed by its cartoonish sentiment?

And so here I am at the Seattle Airport, undoing all of the steps that brought me here ten days ago, a sort of unwilling reverse time-traveler. Despite my bad attitude about having to leave, I don’t hate the people surrounding me and like to think that if the winkdog lady was here—even WITH her winkdogs—that I wouldn’t hate her either. This is what ten days in the love bubble with Z does for me.

Seattle has a pattern of celebrating my departure with good weather. I try not to take it personally. Today, there was plenty of time before my late-night flight to soak it up. Z and I walked down to Pike Place Market and ate at Lowell’s, which overlooks Puget Sound. Because it was Sunday, the place was crawling with tourists and crowds of people that made it more exciting, though I was secretly loathing them all, sure that they were in Seattle for more than the next six hours. Other people I loathed: couples walking dogs and/or babies because there is a good chance they live in the same zip code. Z doesn’t understand this quality in me—this melancholy how-can-I-enjoy-the-present-when-the-immediate-future-is-not-to-my-liking. I am thinking that if he doesn’t understand my sadness at leaving that I must remember to never tell him about how the only time I was ever happy in 1979-1980 was Friday evenings because it was the only point on the weekly calendar at which I was furthest from phys. ed with a woman known as Ms. Hitler-man. He’d never understand that by Saturday evening I was mournful at the thought of having to tug on my embarrassing red-and-white striped gymsuit on Monday morning, like some sort of junior high convict.

What he does get, however, and what always surprises me because not many other people do, is the way my brain works. We took a walk on his campus today, where a pair of mallard ducks has taken up residence in the chapel reflecting pool. All week I’d been hoping to see them, but they never made an appearance and Z speculated that they’d moved on to fancier, duckier digs. While we were walking this afternoon, I was in a particularly forlorn (okay, okay, pouty) state re: my impending departure, the nature of long-distance relationships, how us together is too good to be true and hence too depressing to leave, blah blah blah, but as soon we approached the pool and I saw them I brightened a little, and Z said, “See. There you go. A sign. Everything will be okay.” He didn’t actually know I was in a complete funk. He definitely didn’t know that I’ve taken particular comfort in waterfowl sightings ever since he left my world permanently five years ago & on the day of his departure I stopped at one of our haunts to collect myself before going to work when seventeen or so Canadian geese and goslings waddled right past me, as if to let me know everything would be fine. But he knew a couple of displaced city ducks would mean something to me. I find this condition of being known so surprising and welcome, even if it does mean I can no longer hide behind a blank façade.

So anyhow, here I am in the airport, surrounded by people who don’t know me and who will likely elbow me and nudge me into a corner so they have more room on the sardine can of a plane I’m about to get on, but it’s okay. I’m sad, but it’s okay. I’ve had a good ten days, Z knows me, and planes fly both directions.

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