Leaving, like so much it is the anticipation. The dread. The slow build to those goodbyes. Once they’re done, you have not left, you have arrived.
The familiar faces are replaced with those of strangers. You see it in the way they don’t even look at you. You catch your own reflection as you walk along the electric walkway. It surprises you.
You are self- contained now though, secure. Your small white earbuds play loud music. You feel your throat vibrate as you hum. Should you wear those sunglasses too?
Identity check. You are in the queue with your passport open at the photograph page. One by one they pass through. You hand your passport to the official. He looks at your photograph, looks at you and with a lowering of his head, hands it back to you.
On the plane you sit at the window seat. The raindrops settle on the pane. A man sits in next to you. You fear he will want to chat. He does. Time-killing, inane, bland exchanges. You close your eyes. Apologize. I am praying, you say. I am a nervous flier. He smiles and says it is OK.
Coming home? Or is it leaving home? There is no dread of hello. Not this side.