• Tanja Battle

In the Airport, We Stood.

Love is an interesting thing. Particularly, romantic love. It comes and goes, often in the most unexpected ways. It's easy and complicated all at once. Fulfilling and frustrating simultaneously. Elusive yet obvious, even if the parties involved are blind to all of its mysteries. I always thought I would have this part of my life figured out by now. After all, I was the offspring of two people who were committed to one another and loved each other through differences and challenges that would, for some, be too difficult to overcome. They modeled what love should look like. Not the kind of love you see in the movies, but real love that wouldn't be thwarted regardless of what struggles would ebb and flow. And death, rather than something else, would indeed part them. As for me, I've loved a handful of men but have experienced happily-ever-after with not a single one of them. When I was barely 17, I met this man (well, "almost-man.") I say almost because he, too, was young and not quite the man he would become after love and loss, hardship and successes would shape him. Early on, we became close friends, oddly, after my breakup with his best friend. We would hang out and have dinner and ride his motorcycle in the rain, the latter, one of my favorite memories. I would hear of his girl problems and wonder about where the future would take him. Maybe even worry, to be more accurate. We would become "friends with benefits," before that was even a thing. And then, without knowing exactly why, he would disappear from my life and I from his. Over the years, decades even, I would think of him periodically and look for him without success. Do you know how hard it is to find someone with a name like Michael Davis Smith?? And then, out of the blue, I would receive a message from him THIRTY years after our last contact. To say that I was surprised would be a gross understatement. In the hours and days that followed, we would exchange pictures to document our lives and engage in conversations to catch up. It was, however, two days of incessant texting that elevated our relationship from old friends to lovers. It was clear that we hadn't become such in a matter of days; instead, we both knew it had always been that way, even if we hadn't realized then. We told stories that revealed the way we shared space, merely orbiting around one another with a proximity that stung when I learned of it. I couldn't help but wonder the significance of the near misses in various cities around the world. How is it that we walked the same streets at the same time and never crossed paths? I would learn that he was looking for me, too. Had we somehow missed out on a lifetime of connection or did we remain connected beneath the surface with only a trace of such? I didn't know what to make of all the coincidences, but I did know we would have to share physical space if we ever wanted to fully awaken the "us" that seemed to lay dormant for over half of our lives. It didn't take long for us to plan a reunion, requiring each of us to board our respective planes before boarding one together. My heart raced with anticipation as I wondered what it would be like to see him after all these years. What I would soon realize is that I couldn't have predicted that every soul in proximity would disappear as I fell into his arms in the middle of one of the world's busiest airports. He would hold me with a lifetime of pent up longing before finally placing his lips on mine. I had experienced his kiss before, but this one was different. Emotions had been unleashed and the union of our mouths was a heated precursor to the union of our bodies. The next two and half days were magically blissful. Our energy so palpable that strangers gave us knowing glances, as if we had let them in on a little secret without uttering a single word. We relished each other until the moment he boarded his plane and I walked to mine. And then one day, as was the case thirty years ago, he disappeared from my life leaving only a memory to cherish.

Adventure awaits.





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