Standing there, passport in hand, pink carry-on brushing against my knee high boots, I can barely keep the excitement from my eyes. I hang my head to conceal the soft smile that spreads across my face. Last checkpoint, I think. Fleetingly, I remember that I forgot to pack my colored pencils. Guess it will give me a reason to explore, I hope.
“Next.” Peaking up through my lashes, trying to conceal the ridiculously huge grin on my face, I step to the booth, my carry-on wheels clicking as they pass over each floor tile. I proudly place my passport on the counter and slide it to the 20-something man standing in the box. He stares at me a few seconds too long, not even a twitch at the corner of his mouth. Nervously, I push a long strand of hair behind my ear and break eye contact. “Where are you staying?”
Oh, Mr. Stoic is talking to me. “Sutton Place.” Damn, does he not see me? The humidity has made my jeans and cotton tank stick to me like a second layer of skin. Maybe he’s gay. Stop that. I’ve been traveling for half a day and I think I might lose it if I don’t get out of this airport in a hurry.
“And you are traveling alone.” Ouch.
“Yes.” A pang of anger starts to sear the base of my throat. Shifting my gaze to the luggage claim behind the row of customs agents, happy looking people reunite with their bags. Breaking myself away and back to the ice cube in front of me, I realize that he’s staring at me, then my picture, then me, again. Yes, I cut my hair, I didn’t check luggage, and while I’m quite aware young people travel here to smoke, isn’t it obvious that I’m not the type? That’s the second time in 6 hours that I felt profiled. We go through a series of questions, all about my lack of travel companion and short trip given that I traveled thousands of miles, only to arrive at the same conclusion: I am alone. Get over it. Keeping his eyes on me, the ice cube grazes his hand over the desk towards that glorious little piece of plastic and rubber. Looking down at my passport and once more at me, he inks the stamp and rolls it gracefully over the middle third of page 12. Blood rushes to my already heated skin as I forgot myself altogether. Am I still standing?
The next few minutes are a blur of cream colored hallways and bobbling heads. Seems like I’ll never get out of this place. The sea of people make a sharp right and then a sharp left. Cream colored walls give way to soft daylight and waiting faces, smiling. There’s my feet, no longer shuffling but pushing ahead towards the wall of glass to the left. Double doors slide open ahead of me and sunlight filters through the fog, warming my skin. Stepping across the threshold into the warm, wet air, a surge of grief and happiness pricks the back of my eyes. Standing still as travelers seem to move in slow motion around me, I look at page 12 once more, the ink glistening in the muted sunlight. This is going to be a fantastic weekend.
So clearly I love to travel and my first trip out of the country was epic. I only have about 100 years to see the planet and explore the beautiful cultures and people that live here so I better get to it. Traveling with a partner who can appreciate the world and the people here with a similar awe would be beyond amazing. Travel is my religion. Humanity is a gift and I feel very rich when I explore an unfamiliar culture and landscape. I have a 13 year old at home; responsibility to him comes before all else. But, I work a teacher's schedule and probably have more free time than most. My life is full of impossible stories, happy tears, and amazing adventures. I do my best to be the most awesome mom ever, responsible home owner, and therapist extraordinaire. Laughing daily is a must! Humor incites passion in me. I'm competitive, an athlete, an intellectual, and I enjoy when someone challenges me in these areas. Physical beauty, to me, is nurtured by what you say, how hard I laugh, or cry, with you, and how deeply I'm challenged by you.