I have to shake my head wryly as I pull away from the curb at the SeaTac departures terminal. Andrew is already on his way inside, surrounded by his bandmates, all of them giddy with excitement that will surely burn off into exhaustion by the time their plane lands in Tokyo sometime tomorrow. We must be getting old and married, I think to myself.
I can remember the first time I left my husband at the airport. It was a scant three days after our wedding, and only a few hours after we had ourselves returned from our whirlwind Disneyland honeymoon. (We're pretty much all glamour, all the time.) Andrew was flying out to meet the boys in New York city - they had spent the last three days driving there - to begin a solid three months of touring. That day at the airport we cried and clung to each other. The world was so cruel, we were SO ATTACHED, and any separation seemed like torture. The fact that we were crashing from the madness of having a wedding followed by three sugar-crazed days in the Happiest Place on Earth didn't help. There was a small part of us that loved the drama(the torture!) of separation. It was so romantic. And the promise of reunion was also pretty darn sweet.
Since then I've dropped Andrew off at the airport many times, and he's had his share of taking me there as well. In fact most of the time we travel it seems like we're doing it separately - he's heading off to tour or I'm heading off for work or more recently for consulting/training gigs. As a result we've perfected our airport routine: whoever isn't traveling asks the questions (do you have your passport? your drivers' license? toothbrush? cell phone charger?), and does the driving. There is hand holding on the ride, and non-travel related chit-chat. Our curbside drop-off is quick, an extra kiss for the road and off we go in divergent directions. I wonder if our newlywed selves would even recognize us.
I really don't mind the change. We're more secure in who we are, we don't need tears or passionate public goodbyes to affirm our connection to each other. This time, as I drive away and my love waits for his plane I am almost looking forward to the next ten days. Not that I won't miss him - I always miss him. But I suspect, I hope, that this will be the last time I send Andrew off for an adventure and return home to an empty house. I'm looking forward to some time to myself. Even more, I'm looking forward to this last time to myself, to ramble through our condo and my life just-me for a few days.
It seems like our days and weeks are full of potential "last time" moments. Some of them I can see coming, like this one. Andrew's last big trip before the baby. Some of them we just wonder about. Will this be our last lazy Saturday morning? The last time my mom visits and has to drive to my brother's house to see her grandchildren? The last time I type "s/he" when referring to our little one? It's not a bad way to wait. I am reminded to be grateful for now, for the calm here and now moments we get to have before we meet the person we've been making room for all this time.
But there was something special about that first time I said goodbye to my husband. I will always remember it, even now as I drive away from him this time I think of it and can't help smiling. It's the first time that sets the stage that all the next times reflect and hearken back to.
I'm ready for some first times.
The first time we heard about you.
The first time we held you.
The first time we really realized we'd never get a full night's sleep again.
The first time you smiled/cried/crawled/walked/laughed/spoke.
I'm ready to tell those stories, now. To live those moments, all sparkly and disconcerting and brand new.
The ticker says 4 months, 1 week, 3 days.
This won't be the last time I check it, wondering when our first times with you will begin.