Dulles, mon amour, how many times have we done this?
Clown red uniforms speaking that other kind of German are serving me water. Lipizzaner stallions, whose passages and caprioles moved me to tears once upon a time, prance on the screen in front of me. Leonard Cohen wails “Take this waltz” on repeat in my head (there is a concert hall in Vienna where your mouth got a thousand reviews). The laid-back Hapsburg campiness sucked me in so quickly that I was genuinely disoriented when I looked out the airplane window to find out I was still on U.S. soil. The futuristic shuttle monsters were shuffling between concourses, I was on the other side of Immigration and Customs, and my baby was riding the Great White Whale on a road somewhere, smoking cigarette after cigarette, wading through traffic back toward our house.
It takes three visits to call a place a home. Three borders to reach it. One beer to fall back, two Adirondack chairs on the porch, and one shower for hair and skin to remember how soft the water is. It takes three lights, LaFarge, the L-Furnace, and the Key Bridge, and the big barge redding up the waterline in between, to offset the torn-down tower that we once called FeelGoodInc. It takes three nights in your, his, our bed, and three strands of scent - his skin, the house, and Old Road Bay, to bring a heart wide open.
“You were never more quiet,” my friend says upon greeting me back.
It is true. Usually, when I jump countries, I will text, call, send photographs and long-winded letters. This time, I was quiet. Baby cooked for two, drove for two, sang and danced for two. I was happy to lie down on the sofa, our sofa, that sofa. I was happy to be quiet and listen to him speak. Tell me a story. Speak of the future. Let that baritone fill my ears and my oxblood shoes show us both just how mindless my mindless is, and how wicked my wicked.
“We cried less and fucked more,” I tell her.
I will never have the things I love in one place, or even remotely close to one another. I am back to being the plucked chicken of romance, chasing my multiple lives across pages and time zones. Where there is dance, there is no him. Where there is him, there is no family. Where there is family, I am always a misspoken child in a house of super-ego mirrors.
There is that moment of first sunrise above the Atlantic, above the clouds, just above the first shoals of Europe, when you realize the flight is almost over. That moment when, if you have met a handsome stranger and your head is resting on his shoulder, you start wishing that the voyage would never end. If you are flying home for Christmas, that is the moment when time seems to slow down like a lazy drone, and you will never land. Caught between my stretched-out lives, I take it as another border-crossing, clouds, sun and sky in three thick stripes of white, apricot, and cerulean, brushed across my horizon by some relentless hand.
Greyhound tickets, 7-Elevens, Wawa receipts fall out of my pockets. I carry three currencies in my wallet. I brought the Bay back with me again, I brought my baby with me again, mold, wood, age and water, scallops, steaks and spicy crunch sushi. Dulles, mon amour, how much longer?