24 June 2012

Love, Between Stations

3:58 PM, BWI airport, at the gate and longing...

Heavens above, my daughter's presence leaves me stunned. Charm, beauty and smarts: a killer combination on a hapless man such as I am.

I am traveling again. I hold station in the Mid-Atlantic, awaiting passage back to what is my new home. The tension I feel is that of a wayward moon caught between suns. Longing for orbit but riding the invisible waves of gravity, seeking rest. 

I am between stations. This body of mine caught in a temporary Lagrange point where the stasis tightens the mind. It cannot and will not last, I tell myself. Yet the heart...the heart feels different. It holds its own baffling and anxious counsel, confounding the logic and reason on which the mind lays its foundations. It is the heart, after all. 

I hugged her, the radiant vein of my heart,  not two hours ago. It was my own attempt to bend space and time, extend the moment, or perhaps knock us both into an alternate reality where it was a hug of welcome, not one of goodbye. Her composure was impressive. Mine, less so. The dam held long enough for me to buckle her into her seat, kiss her on the cheek, and tell her I love her one more time. The closing of the car door had the steely finality of a guillotine. I stood in the heat of a sweltering Baltimore summer, waving my hand and watching the car recede down the parking deck. The sun was a blinding pinwheel diffracted by liquid prisms cascading down my vision.

I returned to a station abruptly transformed into alien country. A filter sliding into place over the minds' lenses, shifting to blurred edges and strange colors. The effect was not unlike stepping from shaded bar into a bright sidewalk. Like that, only missing the rounded edges provided by the dubious graces of alcohol. That is not an escape I will allow myself. Not here. Not between stations.

What shall we call this strange sensation, this unsettled rootlessness of the heart? I'm sure the Greeks had a word for it. It troubles me that I cannot recall what that word might be. Me, a man who prides himself on knowing the best word to use to describe anything. I am at a loss. Appropriate, perhaps, for a temporary stranding here amongst seething shoals of humanity.

There are no howling wolves here, no banshee winds blowing apart the lost and anxious heart. There is only the susurrus of a thousand muted conversations cut by the wailing of infants and machine noises. It is a landscape of the modern condition in this country of abundance. I cannot claim to be on the run from anything. 

Still, this limbo between loves is desolation. 

The sky darkens, a pewter the color of thunderstorms. I hear over the loudspeakers that my flight will be delayed nearly an hour. It is to my credit that I do not shed a tear, only utter a small curse. The petty frustrations of the wayfaring life, I grant you. 

It is difficult avoiding the urge to lay down and sleep. Saying goodbye to love, however temporary, is an exhausting business. Exhaustion of a sort that can only be allayed by finding one's way home. Between stations is crowded, but home is not to be found there.

As I recall her laughter and her voice, the sting of my earlier goodbye begins to fade. It is a small ember succeeding a red-hot coal. The image of ashes and fire makes me grin. Stop being melodramatic, I berate myself, it is pain of my own creation.  I know that to be true. I temper myself to remember that, while I left love, I am returning to it.

The journey back makes me smile. I am traveling between stations, knowing I find love at each end of gravity's tether. For this I shall be grateful. It is a rare traveller indeed who knows his heart resides on both sides of the universe. Our partings are temporary. Our love is permanent.


  1. Such a great post; so vivid about the airport, the traveling, the goodbyes.

    And how lucky, to have love at both ends of your journey...

  2. Oh Mr. Gumbo, this post strikes many chords within me.

    Thank you for a reminder of what is a truth for me. My heart does reside on both sides of the universe, and wherever I go, I do find love.

  3. Such a bittersweet post. I thought airports were so 'arrivals and departures', it was perceptive of you to highlight the enduring connections. Remember the little ones are much more resilient than their adults. The pain of a good-bye in your heart ... Go n-eiri an bothair leat!

  4. I always felt, at the separation of my kids and myself, like I was missing a limb. I could feel them, albeit a phantom limb, but I knew that space was real.

  5. ...and so endeth the lesson.

    life is full of twists and turns. Hold on tighty, my friend. Very, very tightly.

  6. I can remember some very difficult goodbyes and you captured it perfectly - the desire to bend space and time, to make the goodbye hug one of hello.

  7. I return to my old friend Irish, and yet again read his sonnets. Well done, my friend.



"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...