It's 4am. The line at airport security flying out of SDF is longer than it logically should be at this time of day. This backpack is brimming with it's full capacity. I am racking my brain trying to think of what I can throw away the minute I get to Montreal. I am only in Montreal for one night. I need to repack my turtle shell (what I am calling the lichen green backpack that carries my 24-days worth of items). Are space bags even worth it? My tote bag is too full. Why didn't I bring a rolling suitcase? I want to be mobile, wheels don't allow for that. For frick's sake, must you re-check MY bags, Mr. TSA? Why are these security areas so small? The women next to me are coming back from a girl's weekend. One is talking about Seattle. I already miss my home, my furry companion and my love. Stop it, Camille - they will be there when you return. Ready to greet you with open arms. You are meant to be here, not there. There's a blister on my right big toe that I acquired two nights ago and it hurts like the dickens. Geez, these bags are heavy. I already need a massage. There is only one coffee shop in this airport. How in the world did this bird get inside the airport? Newlyweds are sitting across from me at the terminal. His ring is shiny with no wear; she keeps fidgeting at the new addition on her left ring finger, adding weight to the stone that was already there. They are young. So young. 20 maybe. Not much younger than I, but the thought of my 20-year-old self committing to one person makes the hairs on my neck stand. If I had married that young, I would not be here. I would not be the person I am. The person brave enough to live the life I do (though I don't feel my comfortable life requires much bravery most days). My heels click with every step on the linoleum tile that lines these airport hallways. It feels as though everyone is staring as my turtle-back and tote bag-tumor whisk past in search of caffeine to fill this tired body. Everyone turns to look and it reminds me that this is not my evergreen home.
It is not my home, and that is okay. This is how it should be.
An update upon arrival for my layover in Newark: the first thing I have discovered that is wonderful about traveling alone is that I can be grumpy and hangry and it is okay. I am not impacting anyone or annoying anyone but myself by feeling internally perturbed. I am free to be me. Grumpy, hungry me.
Being in Montreal makes me feel humble. I don't know the language - I pretend to scrape by with my 'bonjour' and 'merci' tied together with head nods and smiles. I walk down the street with confidence, convinced that the straighter I make my spine, the more I will fit in to look like I local. I am not sure why I am so resistant to looking displaced. After all, I am.
Different parts of town make me feel different ways. Some more inviting, others more genuine to the routines of daily life. I walked past a hospital and out walked a couple with their newborn babe, headed home for the first time as a family of three. I couldn't speak to them in their tongue, but our glances and grins conveyed all that we needed. I didn't know how to say congratulations, so instead I smiled that Cheshire Cat smile I get whenever I see a baby. It is all they needed to know what I was feeling. They walked slowly behind me, hand in hand, cherishing the moment they were in. I looked back and admired them, prayed for their new chapter of life, and went on. It is these moments that remind me that no matter how far away from home I am, there is always someone to share an experience with.
I am grateful.