August 4, 2014
When I left for Austria, Daniel came to the airport with me. Tata had dropped us off. Tata’s always offered a ride to and from the airport. He may not be the most emotionally-accessible father, but he often means well and is consistent and sincere in the help he can think—or is willing—to offer.
“Call me…one time,” he said when dropping me off to fly to BC a few months ago.
“I’ll call you…one time,” I said today when he dropped Alex and I off.
Daniel and I ate at Swiss Chalt while we waited for my flight to Vienna all those years ago. Only four or five years, really, but it feels like a lifetime. Daniel’s dead now. And so is Mama. And now I sit, waiting on the Pearson tarmac, en route to Iqaluit, with a definite purpose, a focus I never had before, though focus isn’t everything. Daniel cried when it was time to say goodbye. That surprised and touched me. I always struggled to recognize and appreciate his sensitivity. I blame it on being a stupid man. I’m pretty sure he paid for Swiss Chalet, because that’s the kind of guy he was.
I’m always the one leaving. Maybe that’s why I don’t understand the grief or sadness at parting. It’s not fair, really. Excitement, novelty and self-serving, egocentric desire is palpable for me when I’m in an airport. But for those I leave behind, an anticipated absence.
Alex held it together today. I almost cired when we were hugging and kissing, saying goodbye. The only other time I almost cried was an hour or two earlier. I was standing in the living room, making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, when I became aware that I was standing on the exact spot Mama died, in a hospital bed.
Places. Home. Geography. I’ve always struggled with understanding how a place I feel deeply connected to can continue to exist if I’m no longer there to witness it. Egocentric. Existential. Romantic.
We’re all born on one exact spot, and die in one exact spot. I could contemplate that for hours.
I orbit, revolve around places I love, never sure, never certain, that I will return, but maintaining a clear vision of each place. A feeling and a knowing.
In this way people are like places: they can only be in one spot at any one time, and they inspire a knowing, and tether me to the ground, even though my head drifts constantly into the clouds.