Dec 18, 2012

Homebound, Part II: ready or not...

Hi, friends.  I'm sorry that I've been AWOL for a little while.  Being home has proved to be a greater shock than I anticipated.  I'm going to need some time to process...but in the meantime, here's some reading material.

The plane out of Shannon was tiny - it looked like a baby bush plane.  As I toted my bag across the airstrip, I thought, that thing's really too small to be carrying anyone anywhere.

There's the airport from my window.  And it's hardly visible because of the glare, but directly below those letters is the arrivals corridor where I remember standing in August.
Despite my apprehension, the hour sped by and I soon found myself in Manchester...or, to be more specific, at baggage claims in Manchester.  My bag's checked all the way through, though.  Where am I supposed to go?

Now, I've been flying non-direct trips for years, and have come to expect that on the layovers, I'll be met by a transfers desk or at least a person to direct me appropriately.  No such luck here.  Since I only had two hours to play with, I figured it would behoove me to find someone sporting a badge.  A stern-faced woman sent me on a fifteen-minute walk to a separate building...where I was greeted by a labyrinthine security line.  I spent a full hour inching along in that line, getting antsier by the minute.

No one tossed my hand lotion, which was a pleasant surprise.  Perhaps more importantly, I got to the lounge with time to spare.

AA211 - that's me!
Soon, I heard a chime over the airport PA and made my way to the gate, where I thought was home free.

I wonder if these people have too much time on their hands; I've never been pulled aside from a boarding line before.  Upon seeing that my American Airlines boarding pass bore the Aer Lingus logo, an agent was concerned and felt it necessary to give me the third degree.  He had a kind face; I'll give him that.  But detaining me for twenty minutes just to ask me questions about where I'd been living in Ireland, what I was doing there in the first place, what gifts were in my bags...that felt unnecessary.

Anyway, what matters is that I ended up on the plane, right?

UPDATE, 1:10 pm (Galway time): I'm 36,000 feet above the Atlantic, and about 4 hours and 45 minutes away from JFK.  Just before the "Parks and Recreation" marathon began, the TV screen above me flashed that our ETA is 12:50 pm.  The woman across the aisle is perusing a giant NYC subway map, and I know that if I reached into my clutch right now, I'd find my Metrocard and my Garda card side by side.

I don't feel ready to go home.  It's not that I don't want to be there; it's that I don't feel ready to.  So much has changed...the past four months, after all, have been no walk in the park.  But I also found an abundance of people who've not only walked with me in the mess, but drawn me nearer along the way.

And I've changed.  Off the top of my head, I've learned (or begun to learn, at least) how to be alone, how to rest, how to live in an independent apartment, how to embrace a new community, how to doubt my faith...and how to start rediscovering it, bit by bit.

I'm not ready!  Send me back - I need more time!  But even as I stretch my legs in this chair, wondering if I left too soon, I realize: if you wanted to wait until you were picture-perfect, you would never leave.  You would never move.

Maybe we're not meant to enter new seasons of life with every last hair in place.  Maybe it's okay to go home a little frayed at the edges, and thrown together at the margins with tape and glue.  How easily I forget...that the people who really love me don't expect me to have it together all the time.  That all they want is for me to be honest...honest, and real.

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