Saturday, August 27, 2011

Being Okay

Gate E6 is down two flights of stairs.  It kind of feels like its own little airport.

You can't get away from people at gate E6.  There's no Starbucks to disappear in.  It's just a bunch of chairs and a door that leads outside to the plane.

I sat across from them; a dad and his two kids.  He wore a weight lifting t-shirt and an arrogant expression.

I didn't like him.

His son was probably 12. His father spoke to him like he should know everything about air travel.  The boy looked like the weight of the world was on his shoulders...he looked scared.  They were traveling alone to Houston, which, I surmised, was home, and where their mother lived.

The little girl was about eight.  She was crying and clinging to her dad.  Every now and then he would reach down and wipe away the tears that were falling on his arm, like they were a bug.  Occasionally he would pat her awkwardly and tell her she would be okay.

I was tempted to argue with him.

I was in first grade, so I was probably six.  My parents divorced when I was five and my dad had moved to San Francisco.  Compared to my home in L.A., San Francisco was cold.  When my brother and I flew up for a weekend visit, my mom sent me with my bright orange fake fur coat.

Do you ever wonder if you remember actual events, or if what you remember came from looking at pictures?

Besides that coat, what I remember is a horrible, panicky feeling.  My six year old brain was convinced my mom would not be safe without me.  I was terrified that something would happen to her and my baby sister while I was away.

I remember crying.   A lot.  I also remember trying really hard not to cry because I didn't want my dad to feel bad. But I couldn't help it.

I didn't see much of my dad while I was growing up.  We moved to San Diego and he moved to L.A., but we only saw him on an occasional weekend.  He always took us to the zoo and to a Mexican restaurant where he drank margaritas.

Eventually our relationship became a Christmas card and sometimes a birthday card.

He died this year on New Year's day.  Though I had recently tried to be more communicative, I hadn't seen him in years.

Didn't matter.  His death crushed me.

Like God, I hate divorce, but it is prevalent in my extended family. With one exception, everyone in my extended family has been divorced.  I don't know all of the reasons, and I can't judge.  But I had hoped that family legacy would end with me.  It didn't and my kids have had to go through some of the same emotions I did as a child.  At times, that haunts me.

But I know the family legacy will end with my children.  Their marriages are based on a foundation that will never move.


Shortly before we boarded our flight, that little girl pushed her way onto her dad's lap.  She gripped his neck and cried buckets.

He was embarrassed, the big jerk.  I had to give up my seat and stand as far away as I could to keep from smacking him.  Or at least giving him a really dirty look.

I know normal people don't get married with the goal of getting divorced.  And I suppose countless parents have patted their children as they cry in airports and told them they will be okay.

But, I have a question.

Compared to what?

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