Boarding Gate Number 7

I found myself at boarding gate number 7. I was absurdly early — 3 hours before the flight to Vancouver arrives. A short portly woman napped in one of the chairs, her headphones askew. Another woman was trying to hush her baby to sleep. I sat far away from them, and parked my carry-on beside my chair.

I was tired and anxious at the same time, that restless state where my body does not know if it wants to rest or be alert. My mother had just dropped me off at the airport. She had kissed me goodbye, her eyes welling up.

“It will be a while before I see you again,” she said, wiping her eyes. “Say hello to Norman for me.”

I didn’t want to cry — I refused to cry. I fear we’d both be a bawling mess in the midst of other passengers trying to get past us.

“Don’t say that,” I said defiantly. “I’ll still come back to visit.”

“You should go,” she said, gently pushing me away. “Go!”

I gave her a lingering look — her eyes were sad, her hand up to her mouth, trying not to bawl out, and her other hand clutching her faux Louis Vuitton purse.

I turned toward to security and didn’t look back.