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We finally found gate C-4 after what seemed like an interminably long time. I rejoiced to see the rows of plush cushioned chairs. My aching legs were also thankful after wandering the long cramped halls of O'Hare's bustling airport. Although the halls exuded spaciousness, the throngs of impatient people thwarted any chance for a leisurely stroll. However, I could not concentrate on this scene of busy travelers and cramped corridors. For the airport and my trip to Argentina seemed surreal to me as I dreamed of my dog Max and my bedroom and how long it would be until I saw them again. This after all was just a stop on a busy road to my future.
Of all the rows of chairs, we staked out five that were closest to the boarding doors. My parents sat across from me, and observed me like birds that watch their fledgling take its first flight. My sisters Rebecca and Elizabeth sat on either side of me, both filled with the anxious thoughts of a year without a brother and friend. Then it was time for us to wait.
At first the comfort of sitting in the cushioned chairs and staring out the large glass windows was enough. I saw the planes make their exits from the sky to come gliding onto the runway. Although made of metal those birds land gracefully. A slight squall from the tires, a bit of smoke, but all in one smooth slip from the sky to skating across the open pavement. They taxi their ways along the integral paths of painted yellow lines. Each one was like an ant moving purposely about its assignment without disturbing its fellow workers. The men and women on the ground crew carefully orchestrated it all with orange batons and walkie-talkies, making sure there is no confusion. The plane returns to its port like a seaman after a long voyage. Their thoughts are only that it's good to be home.
The scene soon became monotonous. The planes always nearly landed on the tail of the one just departed. They turned with the same motions following the same paths to yet another loading dock. Even the questions that quarry an observer ran stagnant. Where were all those planes going? It became apparent that they are all on journeys without any final destination. They only hope to get in as many miles as is possible in their lifetimes.
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"Leaving My Home." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Jul 2018
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I glanced around taking note of the faces and people in my gate. I saw the anticipation in a young child's eyes.
"Is our plane big daddy? How long does it take to get to grandma's house? Can I have a window seat?" Her quizzical looks sparked a desire to return to that place where questions are easily answered. The stories held in the faces of those around me were real. Each one held the excitement that comes from preflight jitters. I had to wonder if this was their first time away from home too. Even this scene, after a short while, became as uninteresting as a Saturday filled with the promises of more homework. I turned my attention elsewhere.
Then I realized my thoughts could not be so easily fooled. Airports hold many points of interest, but when the call of the journey is sung the mind is incapable of hearing anything but her sweet voice. Of course the trip itself could not fully be embraced as a topic for thought. It had become too close and too real. Everyone present could feel the pain of leaving and the joy of freedom that this flight possessed. From the quiet that claimed my family I could tell they were as worried about my leaving home for the first time as I was. The silence that gradually spilled over onto the other awaiting flyers made it clear they felt the same. The bent heads and whispers from those neighboring me also confirmed that. They were either on their final leg of some long journey or the first incomprehensible flight.
The time dripped by with the persistence of a leaky faucet. One drip at a time, the seconds ticked away. Each brought the finality to the moments of the gathered families and friends that much closer.
Finally, the moment came. The attendant made her way to her booth. The thoughts that were pushed to the back of the mind came to the playing field. I believe we all sensed it at once. As the attendant called for the first seat numbers I saw people hug, handshake, and say goodbye as they went to take their place with the others. My legs were weak with uncertainty as I finally stood when my seat number was called. The hugs and kisses from dad, mom, and my sisters were like EKG shots to my tearing heart. I found myself oblivious to the crowd of passengers who waited anxiously for their turn to board. I began to blubber.
"I am going to miss you all so much," I managed to choke out through my tightening throat. My breath lodged somewhere in my throat as tears welled up from my eyes and chest. Then the possibility to rationalize the situation was beyond me. Somehow my well-trained feet made the necessary movements to propel me to the line. I limply raised the ticket to the attendant as tears streamed unabashedly down my cheeks. I looked back at my family for one last glance. Finally, I boarded the plane, and the door to my family was closed. As I took my seat I watched in my mind's eye as my family made their way back through the crowds of people. They would continue on in their lives journeys, as I began mine.