Baba called me and told me to get on a flight and meet them in Boston because you had an accident at the subway station right by your house with the little room on the third floor with a bike hanging from the wall. I sit at Gate E24 between a family of two frazzled parents, a six year and two toddlers that won’t stop screaming, and a couple that is trying way too hard to be nice to each other probably because it’s their first trip together, and I imagine you in both possible scenarios – either tucked in your bed in the room with the bike on the wall or tucked away in a box in a room I haven’t seen yet.
Schrodinger’s cat. You could be either alive or dead. You could be either here with us or there with them. You could be waiting in a passageway much like the one I am in, simply waiting to see where you go. You could be sitting between a couple that is trying to keep each other calm even though they both are clearly nervous, and a couple that had too many kids too soon, bitten off more than they can chew and now they’re wondering how they got here too. You could be sitting between them drumming your fingers on your knees and bobbing your head under the weight of your headphones – because you never travel without music – as you wait for your gate to be called.
You’re probably watching the people that are crying, just like I am. Crying because they just said some goodbyes. Crying because they’ve left behind a life they love. Crying because they’ve left behind people they love. And now they’re sitting here alone, waiting. Just like you. I wonder if you’re crying too. Some people are just arriving. They’re tired and cranky and irritated after a grueling journey but they carry an aura of peace, of faith, of security. They’re going home. They’re leaving this large chamber of waiters that sit around neither alive nor dead but somewhere in between as they wait to hear their destiny.
I wonder if you’re not alive but not even dead. If you’re in some kind of purgatory as you wait to find out. A terrible cliffhanger. I suppose no matter if you are alive or dead, you’ll be in purgatory for me, much like the one I’m sitting in right now. Where you can be both, or neither. Where you can be one of the many bored and disheveled faces scattered around me. Where time doesn’t stand still, but is different on every coloured wrist that struts past me, an insignificant ticking reminder that we all come from different places but will wait in reluctant solidarity together. A place in between emotional goodbyes and long-awaited reunions.
But as long as the wait may seem, you’ll probably come out on one of the sides eventually, just like I do. And I find out what side you’re on. I find out I didn’t get to say my goodbye. I realize that wherever you are you probably aren’t crying though, now that I think about it, because you chose to go. You’re one of the faces at the airport that looks relieved, like they’re leaving behind a grey and dull life for a much anticipated vacation. But I find out you won’t be coming back.
Most of the time I now know where you are. The answer doesn’t change. Resting beneath the tree at the graveyard that is just past McDonalds but holds way too many children’s graves. In your old bedroom at our house where the lights flick off on their own sometimes but if I smoke on your bed, the cloud lingers above long enough to create your silhouette. At the football stadium where young girls and boys run around kicking a ball with that same silhouette engraved on their chest. Everywhere and nowhere.
But four times a year I find myself back at the airport, back at gate E24 or E22 with more disheveled families and couples in love and travelers on a journey and friends returning home and all of a sudden I am back in purgatory even though now there is no more uncertainty but I guess my childlike heart still likes to believe that maybe you decided not to leave, and chose to stick around and wait on one of those highly uncomfortable seats, drumming your knees, and moving your head to a silent beat. That you waited and gave it some thought, and instead decided to come home with me.