Today I flew from St Louis to Charleston with a pretty significant layover in Hotlanta.
I'm about to reveal what a geek I can be.
After all the obsession about packing for this trip and then actually packing and then repacking and then unpacking to re-inventory what I'd packed and then packing again, I have come to the conclusion that I seriously need a hobby or rehab for excessive worriers.
But, with everything that I could think of packed in two suitcases, R and the kids took me to the airport this morning. The kids were not doing so well with the idea of me going somewhere without them. I was so sad that they are sad, but I think that just maybe this will be good for all of us in one way or another.
To get the flight to Charleston, I cashed in my frequent flier miles and with my early booking, I was able to get a first class ticket. Woo! FIRST CLASS! I've heard excellent things about traveling FIRST CLASS and I was really looking forward to it.
I had my comfortable, casual, yet stylish first class outfit all picked out. Crisp khaki capris, black a line top, comfy black leather (closed toe since the toenail thing is still an issue) loafers. I even wore jewelry, which is extremely unusual for me. And I actually spent time on my hair and makeup. I was feeling very first class-y.
Walked through the airport and got to go through the first class security line. It was quicker. Yay. First class is awesome already! Hung out at the gate waiting to board the plane and missed the kids and R enough that I called. I had a sweet conversation with T (who is having the tougher time with my absence) and had what I think is a conversation with S, who kept telling me she was at my house and was waiting for me. I love my family. And I miss them way more than I expected to at this point.
Had a great first flight. Got off the plane in Atlanta and decided to walk to my next gate rather than take the tram. I was walking through three concourses, which felt good after sitting all morning. Plus, truth be told, I was missing my daily workout.
As I'm walking, I notice a bunch of military men and women. I love to people watch and I love to imagine lives for the people I'm watching. I know..geeky, right? But partly because I am a military wife and we are facing a possible deployment soon enough, and partly because I read a lot of military wife/life blogs, I always wonder in situations like these if this is the loved one of someone whose life I follow. And then I think about R and all those years he was Airborne and unattached and how when he was walking through airports like these men and women were, he was returning home, but not necessarily to a home. A first class home (if imperfect) that we have created with and for each other. So that if we are apart, we are always returning to a home, our home.
As I finally get to my concourse and arrive at what is eventually supposed to be my departing gate, I sit down and start reading a book. A Special Forces guy sits down nearby, drinking a Starbucks and eating a Ritter chocolate bar. I'm looking for his rank to see if I can figure out what it is (I'm a very bad military wife in that I don't know rank or badges beyond the obvious, and every time I feel like I become familiar with where everything is on ABU/BDU's, it changes). He sees me looking (he was an E-8 I think) and we make brief eye contact and exchange pleasant head nods. A few minutes later, he calls his mom and I overhear the conversation mostly because I'm listening. But he's headed to Ft Bragg, which is where I met R about a decade ago, and his mom is beyond excited that he's coming home. She wants to buy him a plane ticket to where ever she lives, he wants to drive. And while I don't have the words to accurately describe that interaction, I can sum it up with this - love. If cell phones can radiate love, his did. And his quiet insistence that he drive up to see his family was full of patience and acceptance, and kindness and gentle laughter.
Why this solider stood out to me, I'll never know. But we ended up chatting about Bragg, the military, kids, deployments, and moms. And in my mind the entire time? Was the R I met way back when he was stationed at Bragg, and the first few months we were together. I miss that part of our life, even though our life now is infinitely richer and way more hectic. I wonder if, when R is returning from his next deployment, strangers reach out to him on his way home the way people were reaching out to the military members I saw today. And then I think about all the hardships military life can offer and how all that can be erased (at least temporarily) with a reunion. Especially a happy one. And that? That's first class.
For anyone who knows me or reads this blog who has a loved one in the military, know that today I was thinking about all of you as I wished all the men and women I saw in the airport a safe and quick trip home.