By Oreoluwa Abidoye
It was John’s turn to check in, I look at his boxes, I am jealous of those boxes. I had thought of so many ways I could fold myself into the biggest one but I know that even if I can squeeze myself into the box I will not get pass security.
I watch the way security goes through John’s luggage like he is a criminal, I don’t blame them, this is only happening because of the international reputation of my country. I wish things could be different, lately I believe all my wishes fall on deaf ears.
This is way harder than I thought it would be. I remember the last time we talked about it. John was brave and optimistic; two of the many qualities I admire in him. He went on and on about the internet and how smart phones make communication faster and easier. ‘’It wouldn’t be the same’’ I wanted to say but the look in his eyes told me he already knew. On the up side we were at an ice cream shop and ice cream always made everything better.
Gallons of ice cream wouldn’t make me feel better today, he walks towards me and I can’t take my eyes off him. I want to drink in his essence. I am not sure what that means but it feels appropriate considering the circumstance.
‘’Do you want to get something to eat?’’ he asks. My accounting mind kicks into gear. We are at the airport and everything is always overpriced, I can’t stop myself from thinking about all the other things I could spend the money on.
‘’Or not’’ the sound of his voice brings my mind back to the events of the day. I am sure my face has gone tense the way it does when my accounting mind kicks and John I’m sure didn’t miss the change in my facial expression.
I need to make today memorable, not think of the price.
‘’Or we could look for a place near the airport?” I say. I am making the moment more unbearable than it already is.
‘’I still have 4 hours before my flight leaves’’ he replies.
I know this, but I decide not to point it out. I gather all the strength in me to sound enthusiastic
‘’We should leave the airport’’
John agrees and holds my hand in his very tightly and we make our way out of the airport. It was 6: 30pm that Friday evening and the view provides a wonderful backdrop for a picture.
I like the feel of my hand in his and most importantly how he learned to accept me because I know I am really difficult to understand and a tad dramatic. We walk for a while. We both refuse to take the car, in our minds I guess that walking elongates the number of hours we have left with each other.
We arrive at a restaurant on Airport Road; it was quite a good place to talk. John didn’t waste time he dove head first into the matter at hand.
‘’Have you given any thought to the suggestions I made?’’ John asks.
I really don’t know how to break it to him, I love him but planning my life around him – his actions and decisions wasn’t an option. I am allowed to be selfish and take decisions because they are the best choices for me but there is no self-help book that teaches you how to break such news to a person.
‘’I have thought about it but I still haven’t decided’’ I lie. Sometimes lies were easier to handle than the truth. ‘’You would be the first to know when I have made up my mind’’
I was over compensating when I added that last part. I don’t want him to see my lie. The journey to selflessness I am learning is a long one and it starts with me taking the leap of faith to be selfless.
I have mastered the art of changing the topic of a conversation. I comfortably switch to lighter topics any time he tries to discuss the future. We talked about food, how he was going to miss having Eba and Vegetable soup and an endless list of more mundane things.
The restaurant start to fill up, it was about 9:30 pm and some 45 minutes away from departure time.
‘’We should head back’’ John says. I pick up my hand bag and follow him without speaking. I notice a couple as we walk out, I envy the fact they have time to hold each other’s hands.
The traffic is building up as we make our way through the streaming cars in silence. Talking isn’t important at this point. I believe everyone has said all there was to say. We had laid all our cards on the table and it was completely up to us how we decide to play the next hand.
I really don’t want this to end but five years is such a long time to be apart and the length of time leaves no room for faith and where there is no faith there is always a truck load of doubt and fear. I am not going past the doors into the departure section of airport with him, I can’t handle that. We had already elongated the goodbye and I am not ready to deal with the armed police men that guard the doors. He knows what I am thinking, he reaches into his laptop bag and hands me a notebook.
‘’It would be really nice if you keep a journal, help you keep track and sort out your thoughts’’ John says. It is a thick black leather book that had capital letter ‘’T’’ engraved on it.
I collect it, and tuck it safely into my hand bag. He pulls me in for one final hug, kisses me goodbye and walks in. I look at his retreating figure for about half a minute, admiring the slight limp to his walk. He turns and waves again, I wave back and I turn to leave.
I can’t sit around missing him and wondering what day exactly in all the 1826 days he would call and tell me he met someone and give a long speech on how sorry he is and how life goes on for both of us. The speech would be good because he is exceptional at making speeches.
I walk around the airport, I think again about my resolve. One cold hearted email in a few weeks and the following radio silence. It wasn’t one of my best ideas but, it would have to do.
Departure and arrival are not on the same floor at the airport but I find I had wondered on to the arrival floor. My legs are aching from all the walking so I rest on one of the rails. A bright eyed woman is next to me and I can see the excitement oozing from her. She can’t contain herself and she turns and says to me
‘’I am waiting for John’’ It just had to be the same name. ‘’I haven’t seen him in 5 years’’ she says.
I then I look at her more closely and she looks very much like me.
‘’It wasn’t easy’’ she says as she walks towards the gate. She turns mid-way into her walk and adds ‘’Have a little faith, it goes a long way.’’
She waves and disappears into the crowd.