I stepped off the plane anticipating that he would be there. I would scan the people and our eyes would meet. And embraces would swiftly follow.
But I walked off the plane into a cold empty terminal. I suppose that is what happens when you come in on the last flight of the night. I walked in circles, unsure, which is not a feeling I experience often. I texted. No reply.
Rather than be locked in the terminal, I trailed behind the last trickling remnants of passengers down the escalator toward baggage claim. When was this wait going to end?
And then he texted. He was coming to me. He would find me. All I had to do was wait.
I can’t share everything that went through my mind in those ten minutes. It was such a flurry I can only say it was a whirlwind of here-it-comes, here-it-comes. Here. It. Comes.
My phone rang. “I’m at 3B and walking your way.”
“Are you sure you know where you are?”
“No, but if you’ll just stay put, I’ll find you. I promise.”
His voice was calmed me.
“Marian, I promise.”
“I’m here,” I said, ” I’m waiting.”
He continued talking to me in low soothing tones as he came ever closer, not dissimilar to how people speak to a scared dog. Easy girl, no one’s gonna hurt you.
And then I saw him.
“I see you,” I whispered, and hung up the phone.
He walked with a bouncing, jaunty stride, closing the distance between us rapidly. This is really happening.
And I was in his arms, wrapped in a tight leather and aftershave embrace, trying to breathe, trying to keep my heart from leaping out of my throat.
“Hi, my love,” he said. I watched his mouth form the words hungrily.
Wriggling out of his embrace, I stammered, “Hi. You’re really real.”
“Yeah,” he said.
“The people,” I said, as he came closer for another hug.
He stopped immediately, understanding my intense uncomfort, almost phobia, with public displays of affection. I melted a little. And felt horrid at the same time. But I couldn’t give that.
In line for a cab, he touched me, and I willed myself to just be, holding my breath, feeling like a deer ready to bound into the forest at the crack of a twig under a hunter’s foot. But there was no need for fear. No need for flight. I trusted this man.
His lips met mine briefly, a swift press of flesh. “I’m sorry,” he whispered in my hair, “I couldn’t wait.”
I descended into a rare bashful state. This experience so outside my realm.
“You’re beautiful,” he said. And then I really did blush. Would our turn for a cab ever come? I was so conscious of all the eyes around me. Watching.
In the taxi at last I heaved a sigh of relief after giving the driver the cross streets of our hotel. But even still, all I could do was let him hold my hand. We began talking, the easy intimacy we had shared over the phone for so many weeks starting to flow. Except he was here. Touching me.
“Your stop, miss,” said the driver.
Check in. Get key. Ride elevator. Find room. Put key in door. Open door. Step inside.