Finally freed from my forced friend, I snatched my carry-on from the overhead bin, escaping to the ladies room. There I purged the relentless questions. Seconds later at the sink, in the mirror staring back at me I examined the face somewhat refreshed by splashes of cold water. Quickly brushing my teeth I scolded my reflection.
Okay, Diamond. Quit it! You’ll know soon enough. Try concentrating on something else?
So, while hurrying through the corridors I did; I noticed: The rumblings. Rather, the lack of them. I found I missed the roars from the planes. When a child, I recalled: It used to be so loud. So exciting. Made me know that people were headed someplace. And someday, maybe it would be me. So there I was among so many renovations. Enclosures beautified and silenced Chicago's Midway Airport.
Wow! Somebody has some money. Things are really happening since I’ve been gone. Madame didn’t mention anything about this--their completion, I thought.
It’s been four years, I calculated, while doubling my pace on the terminal’s moving walkway. My flesh and nerves were still jittery on top of this morning’s humiliating frisk for explosives. Anyway, I survived to stand amidst hugs and kisses; everywhere hugs and kisses. Happy people. Crying. Laughing. Squeezing. Making connections. I observed these building and rebuilding of relationships, as: Is she outside waiting? Has she been there long? again twisted my insides. As the carousel circled to me everyone else’s luggage.
Finally mine arrived to let me leave. I took off; constantly searching faces before reaching the arrival curb.
“Hey! I’m here” horns honked much too loud. Car exhaust fumes massacred the air. And I thought, tightening my cheeks: I need these high-pitched squeals—like diarrhea. Where are we? At a pig farm? Is all this noise necessary? Are these giddy people really oblivious of this congestion? Of the relentless traffic and noise? The nerve-wrecking taxi fest? The mess? . . . I’m not. How can I be? I remembered thinking.
The curbside’s constant stream screamed reminders: “Hey, Diamond! Where’s your Mom?” been these ten long years.
“Somehow I knew you wouldn’t come,” I mumbled, glancing down noticing the wrinkles of my short wool trench between clenched fingers.
I continued mumbling; still pacing. “To think I actually dressed for you,” my heels clicked concrete in rhythmic frustration. Yes, impress Mom. I thought: She should see how successful and mature you’ve become. Now twenty-two; no longer the eager slippery-lipped child. No not anymore.
The brown pinstripe suit worked. No-waist flare-legged pants and fitted jacket accented by a satiny-silk ice blue blouse said, “I look good and successful.”
I yanked on the long blue silk scarf knotted nonchalantly about my hips, thinking: This works too, the scarf picked up the faint thin blue stripes in the suit. It showed I didn’t take myself too seriously. Though, my power suit it’s line and color flattered me.
I’m a product. Out of necessity. Mom will get it, won’t she?
She will. I saw it happening. Will see to it happening. Mom shocked after learning of my resourcefulness. Loving me. . . Okay liking me. Why not? . . . . She can like me, right? She has obviously accepted me. For her invite proves it, right? Proves that I am forgiven? I tried to convince myself.
I must be forgiven. And she'll be impressed. Just wait! Others were. I received their admiration. Just today. Back in New York. The uniformed ticket agent, after routine questions regarding baggage, identification, and gate information stated, “I love that outfit!”
Elated, I reached into my wallet and handed her my card.
“DDB’S--Diamond Duprey’s Boutique-Type Services,” she read, ending with a low, “I knew it” as the passenger line grew antsy. “I thought so! A month ago my friend, she said she met you. She did. And she described you. Just like you are. . . .Girrrl. You look beautiful!” she said, glancing quickly around, her head bending to verify my license. Peeking up, her eyes active, she kept going, “I have to tell you. She loves you. And I love you. For her. What you did for her. . . . . I've gotta tell you. You’re good,” she finished.
Thoroughly flattered, I laughed taking back my identification. Thanking her, I said, “Hey, tell your friend ‘Thanks’ for me too.” I value word-of-mouth. The proof? That agent requesting a consultation. Eager to find out which colors and clothes suited her best. She begged for “A payment plan, please?” since her finances, she explained, were a bit strained.
And of course I consented. I had to. Before our conversation I had noticed her. Despite her uniform’s harmony with the airline’s sober blue backdrop, her teased hair and bright colored make-up heavily applied, had me second-guessing my destination.
They’ve switched my ticket from the windy city to Disney, right? Ah, I get it. An agent subliminal for sunnier skies, I inwardly teased.
So, I promised her that consultation. Charitable because of my life’s renewed heaven-bound mobility. And she handed me her card as a reminder before I floated away from that counter. ‘Thank-you; thank-you,’ drifted after me. Of course those extra “thanks” may have been my mental addition, but Mom’s absence sure grounded me fast.
I hugged tight the trench in my arms—fuchsia with striped blue lining in celebration; though, then pointless, as my bubbly champagne-like welcome fizzled long before. Between the pacing and waiting I tried directory assistance. And wouldn’t you know it, mom’s number was unlisted.
Great! Should’ve put it in my phone before I lost the scrap of paper. What did I think? That I would not lose it because it was Mom’s?
So I stood there like some alien to Chicago, in an unexpected afternoon heat, for a Mom I actually prayed wanted to see me.
This is so like her. . . Unless. Maybe something happened. Not that I wanted that. But, funny, huh? That possibility somehow stroked my nerves. Strangely appeased me. Really funny, huh? Though I hope nothing serious. . . Really. For I needed an actual reason for her absence. Not a repeat, I thought revisiting one of the last incidents.
Awkward age twelve. I lingered, a head taller, among friends in the skating rink’s parking lot. As the darkness increased, I crept near the entrance for another solitary fifteen minutes until the lot cleared of all except a few rowdy teen-age boys passing around the usual brown bag. Fortunately, a girlfriend’s mother circled back. “Checking on me,” she said; because, she thought it too dangerous to leave me alone. She drove me home.
I left Mom that year. Actually, Madame sent for me. Bless her. She sutured the wounds from mainly mom’s repeated stabs of rejection. But today burst my stitches wide open, while spewing memories burned like battery acid. Can you believe her making me suffer all over again?
Maybe Mom didn’t forgive me. Maybe this is her cruelest trick of all—bring me back to repeat the past. That would be so her, I thought. So I stood debating whether to continue the wait; hail a cab; or follow my gut instinct.
Yes, use the return ticket today. Leave. Go. Now. Before you’re stuck. That’s right! Before it’s too late and you’re really stuck. And you know you will be if she hasn’t changed. . . No, I thought; she probably hasn’t changed, right? I continued. Probably not. So, Diamond; go right now. Go, right back in there and . . . go . . . where? Nowhere felt like home anymore. Technically, I am home. I can’t go back there; back to Brooklyn now can I? . . . To what? Begin again? . . .Where I left off?
Like I was ready for that.
Though, earlier this week I swore I was; or so I tried to believe. Despite him; or to spite him.