June 10, 2001

Just said goodbye to mom and my sister at security.  I hate goodbyes because there is nothing you can do – once you get to the airport it’s pretty much a fait accompli that you’re going.  Not that they want me to stay – they want me to go.  Still – it’s sad.  The metal detectors are tuned so sensitive that my belt buckle set it off.  The woman with the wand asked, “So what have you got?” in an awfully accusatory way – what, would I be smuggling gold bullion into Ireland?

Now it’s just the awful waiting part – just sitting in this airport limb right between adventure and security – known and wholly unknown.  And it drives me crazy because it’s neither.  I either want to be home safe or there enjoying myself.  The airport purgatory is a fertile ground in which to plant the seeds of doubt and panic.  Not that I’m susceptible to that normally.  Hell, the drive between home and school everyday freaks me out.  And that is my major fault.  My major shortcoming.

I’m afraid to do anything.  I talk big and I have such high ideas but I never do anything.  And the reason is nothing spectacular.  It’s not disease or handicap or family.  Just the maddeningly common and yet incapacitating fear of failure.  I secretly hope my trip is like what everyone says the army is good for – whipping one into shape.  Making you a man.  Maybe all I have to do is pick up that little box of my life and shake it ‘til it all sounds broken inside, then open it up and see what I’ve got.  I am so comfortable and afraid of change that maybe I will see how wonderful change is.  Aren’t you supposed to do one thing each day that scares you?

Maybe that should be me.  Maybe I could be that guy.  Self-assured.  Calm.  Ready for anything but content with the situation presented me.  Hope springs eternal.

It’s pretty amazing how bland and boring airports are (that’s ignoring the bathrooms, of course).  It’s a little stop off to so many different things!  People who have made the trip a hundred times before, people going to marry the love of their life, people going to be reunited with long-lost family, and people like me – scared out of their wits about to go somewhere they’ve never been before.  Totally leaving their family, friends, and country behind to start fresh in a total unknown.  Like that first person who ate the first peanut – waiting to see if they choked, they felt just the same as the person who ate the first toadstool.  The one that did die.  That’s what the airport is like – no one’s there yet, everyone’s bought their ticket and made their plans, but who knows how it will turn out?  And then there are the people going to Paris and Chicago, all in the same building.  And you don’t know who’s who or why or where they’re going.  You’re all just waiting to see if you swallowed a peanut or a toadstool.

All of this in the same blank linoleum palace of transportation.  The great travel purgatory.  Such an amazingly unprepossessing place to hold so much amazing life.

Now everyone’s getting riled.  The fidgeting and discomfort of being in that limbo – waiting becomes all the more unbearable the shorter you must do it.  You know all year that Christmas is coming, but it only makes you lose sleep one night.  It’s so close you can taste it and you just want it over with.  Or to start.  Whichever.  It’s 5 to 7 now.  We should, according to my ticket, be about ready to go now.  Get on the plane, that is, ready to sit and wait again – but at least it’s somewhere new.

Who’s going for the first time?  Who’s going for the ninth?  Who was born there?  Everyone just has such amazing sang froid.  All just sitting reading this paperback or newspaper or talking in whispers to their neighbor.  Nevermind the lunacy of waiting children.

What am I trying to find?  What am I looking for?  Because this is a journey for me.  What is it I’m going after?  A sense of belonging.  A sense of adventure.  I want to prove that I matter and I can do this and there is nothing to be afraid of.  That I don’t need to be stuck where I’ve been put.  That I have a role in my life and I can shape it like so much cool, heavy clay.  That my fingerprints can be left on the surface and my fingers can mold that ball I’ve been given – that lump that I’ve been given – into anything I do desire.

A little shudder of fear runs across my heart and echoes between my ribs.  De rigeur for me doing anything.  But does my body fully realize the magnitude or the adventure on which I am about to embark?  Probably not.  And best not to remind it.

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