tired traveller plane watching at Heathrow
She was quite nice, really, and she looked just like a certain movie star even down to her haircut as she told me that I couldn't be here while my kids were over there. The animosity was all on my side of this interaction. We were the only patrons and they were causing no ruckus and I just needed ten minutes to have them not be within spitting or biting distance of me.
No. Spitting distance it must be, because of what they might do.
"You want to see what I might do?!" I ask her cuttingly as I rise to my feet, except no I don't, I mumble an excuse as I heave myself onto my creaking knees and the blood rushes to those darned telltale cheeks. Thirty years old and handling a scolding like I'm half that. I can't decide if I'm angry at her for not cutting us some slack or embarrassed for being the mom in the library with her kids, not reading to them. (Reading a comic book. The first I've ever picked up as an adult. Because apparently that's what they do in Belgium.) And I'm angry AND embarrassed, disappointed in myself and disappointed in her and just all around could really use a nap and maybe a house that I stay in for more than a few months. You know?
I stew over this tiny, tiny thing and think back to my short time working in that curious creature, an overseas on-post bureaucracy. I wonder how many people I did that too--pulled that move where I could have chosen to help or to overlook a small infraction, but chose to hold that line firm and steady instead. Don't give an inch, you know? Could lead to chaos. I know I felt that fear just behind my attempts to seem like a friendly secretary, and I've never been terribly good at seeming friendly anyway. Who did I make blush or even go in the bathroom and cry (been there)? And this is no longer about that poor librarian at all--she's just one of those jumping-off points that apparently we're supposed to use for blog posts--but what a failure to be a brick wall where what someone needs is maybe just one of those stretchy rope things they use to make lines in airports. How often have I done it to my daughter, my husband, our family, my friends?
Later my boy and I sprawl next to the little tent he is theoretically sleeping in these days. Head to head, shoulder to shoulder we lie on the hotel carpet and the hotel pillow, and we stare at the dark ceiling and its two sprinkler nozzles and the fan blades and their triumvirate shadow. My girl is theoretically sleeping on the couch just behind us and I shush her again and again because like her father and his father and so on her brain just takes off at what the rest of us would call bedtime. Oz's breathing slows and he bends one elbow to rest a velvety hand on my cheek. That stupid telltale cheek that is so warm with fatigue and annoyance at another hotel room witching hour--it bears a soft and glorious weight for a few minutes.
Our landing here has been as almost as soft as we could have hoped for--I mean, at least our plane didn't crash in South Carolina when that bird fireballed into the engine--but that doesn't mean I'd call it easy. I think all of us people muddling through and hurting each other here, and how a finite thing of earthy origins just can't cover this mess. How I need an infinite, an undeserved, a surprising thing. Some everloving grace, maybe even seventy times seven worth.