I have a habit of crying at airports. But only when I’m flying alone. And especially when I’m leaving someone I don’t want to leave. In a city where I don’t live yet. But maybe if everything falls into place, I will soon.
It was like that back in 2011, when I was flying to see Rob in Ohio. And then flying back to Maine to a windowless basement apartment that was all packed up in boxes.
Now I’m flying away from Justin, who is living in Texas. Without me. Ugh.
Sure, my name’s on the lease. My stuff is in the bathroom, in the closet.
But I’m not there permanently. Yet.
I cry after I kiss Justin goodbye. Manage to pull myself together while I print out my boarding pass so that I won’t look deranged to the TSA agents (my primary goal actually any time I go to an airport).
As soon as I get through security though, I fall apart again.
I hunker down in a seat near my gate, waiting it out until boarding. Hoping my dark sunglasses make it so others can’t see my red puffy eyes.
In spite of my best efforts, I’m crying every 20 minutes or so for about 15 seconds and then regaining my composure.
It’s a silly time of night to be at the airport. Late on a weeknight. The cheapest fare we could find. They’re mostly just trying to find a way to cover the cost of gas while they move the plane to somewhere else.
Because of this, I expect the waiting area to be practically empty, but that’s not what I find. Instead, it’s crammed full of other budget travelers. People who also got their tickets for a song. It’s not a full flight or anything — but pretty darn close.
“I can’t wait to get back to Cleveland,” I overhear a young girl saying to her mother. “People drive so fast here.”
Friendly in Person, Antisocial Behind the Wheel
She’s right of course. Having visited Dallas twice so far, it’s the one thing I don’t like about it. Well, not necessarily just the speed. But the attitude.
I used to think that people drive pretty fast in Cleveland. It was a huge adjustment for me when I first moved there, coming from Bangor, Maine. And yeah, compared to country driving, things move fast on Cleveland roads.
But as far as city drivers go, I’ve come to realize that Clevelanders are actually really nice. If you put on your signal to merge in or switch lanes, about three-quarters of the time the other driver will help you merge in by adjusting their speed or maintaining distance.
Sure, about a quarter of the time, they don’t. And you’ll end up feeling irritated or jilted or annoyed and have to make other plans for how to get where you want to go.
But most of the time, Cleveland drivers are pretty darn prosocial.
In Dallas, it’s kind of the opposite. About three-quarters of the time, you’re on your own — or someone will alter their speed in a way that seems like they’re trying to actively thwart you.
It’s a stark contrast to how people act when you’re out and about. Dallasites are extraordinarily friendly to your face. They just drive like antisocial speed demons when they get behind the wheel. So it goes.
Loyalty’s Funny, As Are Dealbreakers
It’s not my favorite phenomenon, but that’s been literally the only thing that I haven’t liked so far about the city. And honestly, I saw just as bad, if not worse, when I visited Chicago. Quite honestly, there was a lot more I hard to adjust to when I moved from Bangor to Cleveland about a decade ago. And overall, visiting Dallas has been an overwhelmingly more positive than negative experience.
But for this girl, who looks much too young to drive herself, it is a dealbreaker.
As I wait to board, I think about that. How this little girl can’t wait to get back to Cleveland and how in spite of living for nearly a decade happily there I feel condemned by having to return.
I suppose it matters that I’m returning to a house that’s eerily empty, full of boxes that are packed and about to be fetched by the moving company. Rooms that literally echo if I talk while standing in them. And other areas that are only half renovated that I have to finish quickly so I can sell the place.
But then again, this isn’t the first time I felt this way. I felt this way growing up every time I traveled alone. I hated to go home. When I flew back from Madrid to Bangor at 18, I cried for my entire layover in Newark (a long one, something like 8 hours). I didn’t want to go back to Maine. Wanted to stay in Spain instead.
I was never happy to go back to Maine. I used to be happy to return to Cleveland whenever I’d travel. To Justin, the cats.
It occurs to me then that loyalty is funny thing. Attachment. Bias.
It can make a certain place feel like home or a prison. It all depends.
I Can’t Cry When I Get Home
My flight goes well. Dallas to Cleveland (and vice versa) is an easy one. Just a couple of hours direct.
I catch a cab home, walk through the pouring rain down the sidewalk from the place where I asked the cabbie to drop me, and into my house.
And I find that while it was so easy to cry at the airport, it’s suddenly much harder here. Maybe I’m adjusting. Maybe I’m in an emotional vacuum.
The house exists now in an uncanny valley, where it looks kind of like my home but doesn’t feel like it. Maybe it’s the renovations making it so certain rooms literally look different. Maybe it’s how empty it is.
But I suddenly can’t cry anymore.
Nothing seems real, so there’s nothing to thrash against.
I gather up all the things I need to drag to the curb for trash collection in the morning. Sighing, I step back out into the rain.
My new book is out!
Dealing with Difficult Metamours, the first book devoted solely to metamour relationships, full of strategies to help you get along better with your partners’ other partner(s).