The departures gate creaks open, admitting the mid-day sun and a puff of air into my stuffy front hallway and illuminating the piles of luggage and Absolute Necessities that travel everywhere. The pile is crowned by the ragged and ubiquitous Mr. Bunny, an overturned Spiderman travel cup with a cat hair stuck to the spout, and a single, sparkling metallic Tom’s toddler shoe, forlornly waiting to be reunited with a restless, chubby foot. The taller travelers load themselves up like coatracks at an oversubscribed office holiday party, silently balancing items from every appendage, sometimes in multiples, navigating carefully with the weight that swings this way and that, taking silent inventory as they start forward.
Oh! Two more items that mustn’t be left behind: The children. I reach out a hand to the older, wondering if his forlorn expression mirrors my own, trying to re-arrange my thoughts and, I hope, my face. He accepts my hand, and we follow in procession behind the staggering Coatracks, keeping a safe distance from their swinging loads. Come on, urge The Coatracks, time to go, time to get home. To blow out of here and leave behind the dead air that briefly follows a fighter jet’s billowy plume across a bright sky.
What to say, I’m pondering as we trundle on, but he speaks first. Perhaps I am imagining it, but I choose to hear a tiny chime of hope in his voice when he asks:
“Are you coming with us?”