Mac had been talking about movies for a while; something about Danny DeVito in a Christmas film I think, but I hadn’t been listening and he had since stopped. The silence hung thick between us, much unlike the easily flowing conversation I had always enjoyed with him.
A minute later, the silence cracked; probably more of his desire to say something that his desire to say anything in particular.
“Why does it only stop at terminals 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8? Are 2 and 6 just not good enough for New York City?”
A Boston kid, his derision of New York was neither new nor unknown to me, and yet I found it difficult to more than merely smirk at the comment and say I didn’t know. I mean, time was ticking, Goddamn it.
We drank cocktails in a bar in the arrivals lounge, served by an exceedingly rude waitress, to attempted to numb or to drown what was about to happen. My bags were already checked in, and my boarding pass sat nestled in the sheathes of random paperwork that I always think I might need when traveling internationally (in a slightly ironic twist, the only thing I I’d need out of all of it were my insurance documents, which turned to be invalid as I had extended my stay, but that’s a tale for another time).
We rode the escalators up to departures, arm in arm, whispering sweet nothings. I told him to stop or I would cry. He told me he had already cried while we were on the J train, while I thought he had been asleep. I hugged him harder and silently wished for another half hour or so to enjoy our soppy teenage bullshit*.
Of course, time only speeds up when you try to grab it, and the first security checkpoint met us before even frequent flyers like ourselves could have anticipated. And I DID cry. So did he. And then I laughed and said “look at us”, and he smiled back and cried harder. He was planning to go to the margarita bar at South Ferry before he went back to base, and I warned him against getting too wasted as the project we were working on took a stern view on underage drinking. They also provided our housing, so getting fired would equate to homelessness for him.
Then I said something I’m not so sure about. In all the icky new-relationship crap, we had told each other how we were the best thing that had ever happened to each other; how we couldn’t imagine our lives apart, how this was the best time of our lives, yet certain words remained unsaid. For better or worse, I was about to fly half way across the motherfucking planet. I needed clarification.
“Can I say something?”
I had almost hoped he would preempt my statement and say it first, but I have to go first sometimes, right? Plus, we had a three-year plan at this point. I didn’t think it was too far fetched.
“Can I say that I love you?”
I could taste the huge weight of the words as I said them; a weight that started to crush me as I waited for a response. Finally he pulled his mouth away from the kiss that he had enveloped me in.
“I love you too”.
Goddamn. I should fucking hope so. Had the answer been anything else, I would have fallen at the last hurdle. I had to leave, of course. Had to go through security, had to walk almost blind with tears through the concourse, bypassing the overpriced clothes and duty free. I had less than a dollar to my name, anyway. Eventually I settled in a part of departures where the British accents outnumbered the American and sat down.
Currently there are 14 minutes until my flight boards, and I still question if getting on it will be the greatest mistake I’ve ever made.
*It’s probably worth saying that while I was once a teenager, I am not anymore, and resent the allegation thankyouverymuch.