She stood at the glass. Cool forehead to cool window. Staring not at the airplane that would carry her family away but watching her breath make a foggy cloud on the slightly dirty window. Trying to make it bigger, then smaller, then bigger again. Scarcely aware that the plane was backing up.
She had been at the airport numerous times. She was familiar with leaving. Leaving is like death and taxes as far as she was concerned. Leaving always came. During her many visits to the airport she carefully observed others as they watched their family, friend, lover board the plane. She noted the expressions that crossed their faces as they sought a final glimpse of their dearly departing. She scrutinized the droop of shoulders and the downcast gaze as they glumly trudged to the window and pressed their head to the glass. Some pressed their palms to the window, as if they could have one last touch before the plane whisked away what they considered precious. Desperate not to let them go. Some cried. Sniffling loudly, blowing noses, wadding up tissues that were well past their fill point. Some walked away wiping a tear.
If she could cry she’d do it like the latter. There’s dignity in the slow trickle of a tear. There’s no dignity to a snotty, tear streaked, mascara stained, red face.
She stood a while. Not thinking of what the plane was taking away but trying to feel…to feel anything. Sadness. Loss. Anguish. She prayed a little. Please let me feel, let me be normal, let me be human. Let me please feel human. I’ll be a good girl if you just let me feel. But no. All she could conjure was a morose face, not one single emotional reaction.
Blah. Meh. Words used often today to illustrate a lack of feeling.
These words represented how she felt now, as they left and could just as easily describe how she felt while they were here. She enjoyed the visit, she enjoyed their time together but she could not allow herself to become a victim to their humanness, she could not immerse herself even the slightest, she could not let emotion crack her facade. It was too painful when the leaving came. She hated the leaving. So, all actions or non actions were done to avoid pain when the leaving came. And she knew too well that the leaving part always, always arrives.
The shrink has good words.
You feel alone? Yes.
You feel isolated? Yes.
You feel set apart, removed, disconnected? Yes, yes, yes.
The shrink clucks her tongue. How tragic. I will fix you. I can help. We can work on this together. I can make you normal. I can make you human.
But she, the queen of disconnected, knows what to do. She shakes her head glumly, slumps lower in the couch and sheds one dignified tear. Practice makes perfect.
And she thinks to herself, this is how she’s made. Try as she may she could no more rid herself of these labels than she could lose an arm or her eyes. This is who she is. Being disconnected has forever been the goal and to meet that goal a wall must be built. The wall is protection, it keeps her removed from feeling. It keeps her set apart from pain. It keeps her safe from emotional destruction. It keeps her safe.
Above all else the wall keeps her safe.
When the family called and said “We miss you, the whole gang is coming for a visit.” She responded “How wonderful, I will plan fun activities, we will stay up late talking, we will reconnect, we will be like a family again.” She had a good working knowledge of the expected responses.
As she hung up she knew what had to be done. She must get the brick, the mortar and the trowel.
For a wall is not built in a day. And crumbling is unacceptable.
She puffs one last breath at the window that over looks the runway. She draws a sad face in the fog with her index finger. She’d seen someone else do that once. It was poignant. A feeling she copied well.