Getting to this beautiful place was nothing short of nightmarish. From the time I woke up to the time I was picked up from Salt Like International, it was just one crisis after another. And for someone who is as easily stressed as I am, I really began to wonder if I was going to make it.
My day was supposed to start at 5:30 AM because I was to meet my boss at the gas station with my mom so we could drive down to the airport together. We had to coordinate because of some logistics to pick up my boarding pass. And so I had a cell phone alarm set for 5:30 AM.
It decided to go off at 6 AM instead, and my mom wasn't even home from work yet anyway.
So with no possibility of a shower, I threw my clothes on, brushed my teeth, threw my hair into a ponytail and tried to take my luggage outside to meet my mother. It was extremely heavy and awkward to move, and I ran over my foot in the process.
We met my boss at the gas station at 6:30. I felt really bad that we were so late because I know what traffic is like down to their physical therapy clinics, and I knew she had early morning patients. I knew making her late was really going to mess with her morning, but I knew there wasn't anything I could do about it.
We finally got on the road and headed to BWI. By this point, the reality that I was leaving was full force. I wasn't sad. Or scared. Just nervous to trust that I wouldn't be making the trip back to my place in a few hours. I was simply nervous to trust my own luck and abilities to get me as far as I needed to go--but I couldn't think about that. I knew my mother's confidence was entirely wrapped up in my own. I had to be strong for her.
We got inside to check in and pick up my tickets, and the kiosk wasn't recognizing any of the information my boss was putting in. I began to panic, and almost started to cry. How could everything be going to pieces already?
Finally the information went through. We weighed my checked suitcase, and it was 20 pounds overweight. The fact that I had been attempting to smuggle my most treasured paperbacks was suddenly revealed. And out they came... including Fahrenheit 451, which I literally don't know how I will survive without. That book is where this restlessness in me, this need to find more--be more--actually started for me. But pieces of myself left in a big red bag that today, and I knew it was a different kind of tithing. I couldn't think about it in any other way.
I said goodbye to my boss, my second or third mother of sorts, and I began the trek to security with my mother. I was ready to go through, but she wasn't. So we sat in some chairs for about 15 minutes. I couldn't take my eyes off of security, so eventually my mom tried to let me go. She gave me a hug, and I felt her head get heavy on my shoulder.
"No! Don't! Do not cry, because if you cry I'm going to cry and I can't afford to cry right now. I'm going to do this because it's what I've always wanted... because that's what you taught me."
I don't remember what she said after that. Maybe she didn't say anything. I just remember looking back from the line for security, and seeing her standing there--and part of me wishing she would go home so I wouldn't have to see her be as sad and tired as she was. I could see it--she needed to sleep.
I got through security, lugging my book-stuffed carry-on and my jam packed laptop case as far as I could before taking short rests. Nothing had wheels, and I knew I was carrying somewhere between 50 and 70 pounds worth of my things. But there was no easier way. I had to keep moving.
I got to the gate for my flight to Atlanta, and sat next to a really nice older woman. She reminded me of Georgia--her chic, yet casual look complete with deep shades of purple paisleys and blue jeans brought back the feel of that Southern hospitality, and the taste of that peach tea I will never forget. It reminded me of home somehow, like Georgia always does. So when my mom called me, anxious for more reassurance, it was no surprise to me when this woman--a grandmother going to "spoil her grandson"--gave me a smile, a wink, and reassurance of my own that "mothers are always like that."
I smiled and exhaled deeply, and felt some measure of peace in knowing that she will always be my mother.
But as I boarded my flight to Atlanta, I knew that it was necessary in many ways to leave her behind. I knew I couldn't be their staple anymore. I prayed for this moment for my entire life, before I even knew anything about prayer, and it was time to go...
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