Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I Am Sitting In An Airport

I am sitting in an airport. It feels just short of glorious. A lot has changed since the first real memory I have of airports. My first real memory is like a rigorous roller coaster:

It was before planes where pedestrians were weapons and everyone, boarding pass or not, could go all the way up to the gate. If you are young you might not know there was a time where this reality existed, but it did. We were all there with a mixed excitement for what was coming and a growing realization of what we were leaving behind. I was looking for my best friend who had promised to see me off. No goodbyes were final because this would be our final goodbye. She didn't show. Her parents thought, because of her grief, that it would be better if she didn't come. It stuck to my heart with irrevocable pain.

There is a picture someplace, that I don't have on me right now. My two brothers and I, along with my parents, are standing in front of the gate holding a giant map. One of us is pointing to Pennsylvania, where we were leaving, one to Ecuador, where we were heading to school, and one to Uruguay, where my parents were moving. My face is slightly blotchy and twisted into disdain.

Some place between that gate and being seated inside the plane my emotions shifted. I was buckled in, staring out the window, telling my mother that I didn't remember the last time we flew. I was 3 or 4 years old the last time and at the age of 10 it was a lifetime ago. I relive this moment every flight. I sat and looked out the window, my forehead against the double paned glass. My heart leaped to my throat as we gained speed and lifted off the ground. I watched the world sink below me, everything transforming into perfect toy replicas of their life sized selves. The world fell away and took with it all the problems that were sitting in that airport, in that place.

I am sitting in an airport. It feels just short of glorious. I am 25 years old and I have averaged around four flights a year since that first time back. I can pack a carry-on to hold 100 lbs if I need to. I have a system. I know the flow of an airport. I know that it pays to dress nicely and speak nicely to everyone in transit because you don't know what they are leaving behind. This trip might be costing them much more than money. I've learned that everyone around you has a story. I once met an older man who gave me Spanish literature suggestions. A young man who grew up in Dubai as a TCK and couldn't believe his luck on meeting another TCK. A woman whose sister had cancer. A man who was struggling with how much freedom to give his teenage daughter.

I am going to visit a dorm sister, one of my best friends. We have the kind of friendship that leads to hours of talking at the very deepest levels over coffee and laughing to tears over hardships and hilarious moments of the past. I know that soon I will be watching my world here drop below the clouds and I will go to another one. It holds familiar and unknown. And sitting here in the airport I get the feeling that this concept, this up and down, this missing my husband but excitement to see my friend, this stepping out of my life into another, this is what I am made for. This is what I know. This is what I do.

I am a wanderer, but I am not lost.

What do you feel when you are in an airport?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

This one is for the Dorm Kids

We are such a small sector of TCKs, but I could not ignore us for much longer. So this one is for the dorm kids (boarding school kids).

For all the kids who grew up with two, three, four sets of parents. For all the kids who went "home" for Christmas and then went back "home" for school when Christmas was over. For all the kids who make the most of time with their families, every time, because they know exactly how limited it is. This one is for you.

For all the kids who huddled close around candles, laughing, when the lights went out. For all the kids whose friends have always and will always be their family because their family was far away. For all the kids who tucked in younger kids, and who looked up to older kids, and who borrowed everyone else's clothes. For all the kids who struggled in school because it is just impossible to help every dorm kid with homework every night. This one is for you.

For all the kids who got bullied because everyone was struggling different ways. For all the kids who cried themselves to sleep because they missed their parents. For all the kids who left first to boarding school and whose siblings went on with life without them. For all the kids who had to room with their mortal enemies. This one is for you.

For all the kids who stayed up late making mischeif in someone else's room. For all the kids who hid food in their rooms for late night snacks but would never say where so it couldn't be stolen. For all the kids whose stories either prompt intense, unending laughter, or heavy hearted tears. For all the kids whose actual siblings will be their closest friends their whole lives. This one is for you.

For all the kids who knew how to clean a house and do laundry before they hit middle school. For all the kids who have to make a distinction between university dorm life and growing up dorm life in every conversation. For all the kids who have to answer incredibly hard and sometimes awkward or ridiculous questions about their every day lives. For all the kids who can't quite explain how deeply hard it was and also how much they seriously loved it. This one is for you.

And for all the people who really saw us, who stepped outside of their lives and into ours, who raised us, who befriended us, who set aside time in their schedules to help us, and especially all the ones who married us and are always trying to find a way to break through those individulized, I can do this on my own because I have to, walls. Thank you. Because of you, we are us. So this one is for you too.