This has been one of the more surreal week-ends that I've had in quite some time. I often find airline travel to prompt that feeling of being out of time and place, especially when I'm travelling to a different season or when I'm seeing parts of the country where I haven't been lately.
On Saturday I flew to Raleigh, N.C. to see my dear friend who has stage IV cancer.
On the way out, there was a crowded airport on one side of the trip with the security line almost back to the parking garage: spring breakers and cruise ship folks really filled the airport. Luckily they pulled people out of the security line as flight times approached.
On the other side, a 6 hour flight delay, but a nice airport in which to be stuck and a travel voucher for later trips. I had good books. I reread Carol Anshaw's Carry the One, which was every bit as good as the first time I read it (see this post for my thoughts then).
The Raleigh airport has a wing being built, but we had access to the old wing which isn't being used. There were some stray benches, wide open spaces, and less-busy bathrooms. Little kids played all sorts of games that involved running through the open spaces. Parents walked sleeping children in strollers. A father and son occasionally tossed the football back and forth.
It felt a bit surreal, this ghost airport wing attached to the very bustling remaining airport wing. I looked out on the flat, scrubby pine Carolina landscape and thought about how similar the vista was to other airports where I've been stuck.
There were moments where I wondered if maybe I was in some sort of purgatory. I just kept reading and wishing I had brought some snacks with me. Finally, our plane arrived, and we could depart.
Because of the delay, many passengers had gotten re-routed, so when we finally got on the plane, it wasn't full-to-bursting like it would have been. I had no one else in my row--ahhhh. I re-read Patti Smith's Just Kids and enjoyed it just as much as the first time.
I had a great visit with my friend, but we've always been the kind of friends who reconnect like we'd never been apart.
We watched movies Sat. afternoon because the trip to the airport and the lunch at Chili's left my friend tired. But we often spent our time watching movies together so it felt good. Secretariat is a great movie, which I would not have likely watched. We also watched Brave.
We had time for good conversation and remembering past times together. We've been friends since 1982, so there was plenty to daydream about. We talked about how much we hoped we'd get to be little old ladies together. I offered my guest room for a tropical vacation whenever they come to a good travelling place in my friend's treatment.
The last time we were together was when my friend and her partner came to Key West for a vacation. They loved the Key West atmosphere, and my house could give them some of that. I hope we get to walk to the beach together.
I came away convinced that both my friend and her partner have a good local support system in place. I'm relieved, because my friend's family is a bit more far-flung than most.
But it's surreal to think that I'm seeing a friend in this kind of struggle. It had to happen some time, I suppose. But I had these hopes that maybe we would all escape this mid-life battle with death and make it to old age together.
I remember the first time a friend got pregnant with a planned pregnancy, and I felt like I was walking through a new door, a new passage into a different part of adulthood. Likewise, I feel like I'm walking through a new door.
I don't like this door.
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