It was his turn to check in, I looked at his boxes, I am jealous of those boxes. I had thought of so many ways I could fold myself into the biggest one. Even if I could squeeze myself into the box, I wouldn’t get past security.
I watched the way they went through John’s luggage like he was a criminal. I don’t blame them though; this is only happening because of the international reputation of my country. I wish things could be different, lately I believe all my wishes fall on deaf ears.
This is way harder than I thought it would be. I remember the last time we talked about it. John was brave and optimistic; two of the many qualities I admire in him. He went on and on about the internet and how smart phones make communication faster and easier. ‘’It wouldn’t be the same’’ I wanted to say but the look in his eyes told me he already knew. On the up side, we were at an ice cream shop and ice cream always makes everything better.
Gallons of ice cream wouldn’t make me feel better today, he was walking towards me and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I wanted to drink in his essence, I am not sure what that means but it feels appropriate considering the circumstance. ‘’Do you want to get something to eat?’’ he asked and my accounting mind kicked into gear immediately. We were at the airport and everything is always overpriced there, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about all the other things I could spend the money on.
‘’Or not’’ the sound of his voice brought my mind back to the events of the day. My friend always says you couldn’t take the accountant out of a person. I am sure my face had gone all tense the way it does when my accounting mind kicks in and in John’s usual fashion; I am sure he didn’t miss the change in my facial expression.
I need to make today memorable, not think of the price, I thought to myself. ‘’Or we could look for a place near the airport?” I said. I was making the moment more unbearable than it already was. ‘’I still have 4 hours before my flight leaves’’ he replied. I knew that, but I decided not to point it out. I gathered all the strength in me to sound enthusiastic ‘’we should leave the airport’’ I said. John agreed and held my hands very tightly in his as we made our way out of the airport. It was 6:30pm that Friday evening and the view provided a wonderful backdrop for a picture.
I liked the feel of my hand in his and most importantly how he’d learned to accept me because I know I am really difficult to understand and a tad dramatic. We walked for a while, we both refused to take the car. In our minds, we guessed that walking elongated the number of hours we had left with each other.
We arrived at a restaurant on Airport Road; it was quite, a good place to talk. John didn’t waste time he drove head first into the matter at hand.   ‘’ Have you given any thought to the suggestions I made?’’ John asked. I really didn’t know how to break it to him, I love him but planning my life around him, his actions and decisions wasn’t an option. I am allowed to be selfish and take decisions because they are the best choices for me and there is no self-help book that teaches you how to break such news to a person. ‘’I have thought about it but I still haven’t decided’’ I lied; sometimes lies were easier to handle than the truth. ‘’You would be the first to know when I have made up my mind’’ I was over compensating when I added that last part. I didn’t want him to see my lie. The journey to selflessness I am learning, is a long one and it starts with me taking that leap of faith to be selfless.
I have mastered the art of changing the topic of a conversation. I comfortably switch to lighter topics any time he tried to discuss the future. We talked about food, how he was going to miss having Eba and Vegetable soup and, an endless list of more mundane things.
The restaurant started to fill up, it was about 9:30 pm and some 45 minutes away from departure time. ‘’We should head back’’ John said. I picked up my hand bag and followed him without speaking. I noticed a couple as we walked out, and envied the fact that they had time to hold each other’s hands.
The traffic was building up and we made our way through the steaming cars in silence. Talking wasn’t important at this point. Everyone had said all there was to say. We had laid all our cards on the table and it was completely up to us how we decide to play the next hand.
I really didn’t want this to end but five years is such a long time to be apart and the length of time left no room for faith and where there is no faith there is always a truck load of doubt and fear. I wasn’t going beyond the doors into the departure lounge of the airport with him; I knew I couldn’t handle that. We already elongated the goodbye and I wasn’t ready to deal with the armed police men that guarded the doors. He knew what I was thinking, reached into his laptop bag and handed me a hard covered notebook. ‘’It would be really nice if you kept a journal, help you keep track and sort out your thoughts’’ John said. It was a thick black leather book that had capital letter ‘’T’’ engraved on it.
I collected it, and tucked it safely into my hand bag. He pulled me in for one final hug, kissed me goodbye and walked in. I was looking at his retreating figure for about half a minute, admiring the slight limp to his walk. He turned and waved again, I waved back and with that I turned to leave.
I couldn’t sit around missing him and wondering what day exactly in all the 1826 days he would call and tell me he met someone and give a long speech on how sorry he was and how life goes on for both of us. The speech would be good because he is exceptional when making speeches.
I walked around the airport, I thought again about my resolve, one cold hearted email in a few weeks and the following radio silence. It wasn’t one of my best ideas but, it would have to do.
Departure and arrival are not on the same floor at the airport but I found I had wandered on to the arrival floor; my legs were aching from all the walking so I rested on one of the rails. A bright eyed woman was next to me and I could see the excitement oozing from her.
She couldn’t contain herself as she turned and said to me ‘’I am waiting for John’’ it just had to be that name I thought to myself. ‘’I haven’t seen him in 5 years’’ she said and then, looking at her more closely,  she looked very much like me. ‘’It wasn’t easy’’ she said walking towards the gate. She turned mid-way in her walk and added ‘’have a little faith, it goes a long way.’’
I tried to find her in the sea of people but, her face had disappeared into the crowd. 
 Photo Credit: Mr Tobi Johnson.