I was sitting in an airport chair, waiting for my chair to roll through on the baggage-claim belt. Sarge and I were trying to convince the Sky Cap my chair would be through on Over-size Items, which meant we were waiting in the wrong place.
Sarge was tired, and I was just wired and wanted to get OUT. We got our bags, and then Sarge pointed over my head.
‘It’s over there,’ he said, pointing to my chair which had been where we said it would be the whole time.
Sarge went to get my chair; I did a quick scan to see everything was in the right place and transferred without putting the brakes on. ‘Let’s blow this Pop stand,’ I said.
My mother has since said she spotted me before I saw her. Not unlike our last airport hello where I waved at the wrong woman before I realised my mother was standing behind her, a very bewildered stranger who wondered why I was waving so frantically at her. In my defence, my mother and the stranger had been wearing the same coat, and I so tiredwired, perhaps I thought I was seeing double.
This time, I met my mother halfway, away from the general crowd. We speak on the phone often enough that my accent is confused, but we hadn’t seen each other in over 5 years. In the airport, under those harsh lights at around 11 pm, it didn’t seem that long at all.
I introduced The Boyfriend to The Mom, they were already saying hello as I did so.
‘I gotta pee,’ I said, and raced off as my mother asked Sarge to load the car.
I got to toilets just as they were being closed for cleaning.
Now. Some accessible toilets in America are inaccessible. Because you can’t get in, turn around, and shut the door. In a stall, the idea of a turning-circle is as foreign as well, something foreign. I don’t think it’s possible lock the door, unless you’re a contortionist. As it is, I’m double-jointed, and most of the time I can Pop-(my shoulder)-Lock-(the door)-Pee (hopefully not in my pants.)
I’d forgotten this short but all-important sequence until confronted with it. ‘And I’m here,’ I said, as I left the bathroom in search of my mother.
I asked her what she thought of Sarge.
‘He’s so handsome. You look tired.’
‘Thanks. Can we go now?’ I was already morphing back into the 12 year-old I’d been when I first left New York.
My mother only goes online when she needs directions. We got in the car, and Sarge read out the Mapquest instructions to my cousins’ house, where Sarge and I would be staying for what I dubbed Family Week.
An hour later, we’d gone through my old neighbourhood, called the house several times and passed it twice before my cousins welcomed us with pizza and a Saltire sign.
I fell asleep while Sarge brushed his teeth. And dreamt of surprises.