My first ever flight to Seattle was at 5:30 in the morning. The night before was a slow ballad of last goodbyes and deciding what would make the final cut to go in the two suitcases. To be honest, I don’t remember falling asleep that night. I remember saying goodnight to one friend as they left early in the morning and goodbye to another as we packed the car to the airport. A small part of me was still trying to find a way to convince my friends I didn’t really need to move. It would actually be more fiscally responsible to stay in Illinois, just for a few more months. Where it’s comfortable and familiar.
I’d never been inside this particular airport before, nor had I ever flown by myself before. But I didn’t have time to worry about that. Big, scary life changes require full concentration. Otherwise, your knees start to buckle and you become a puddle of tears and Anxiety Shakes. Everything was going according to plan, but once it was time to go through airport security and leave the security of my friends, my brain froze in a fuzzy panic.
Knowing it isn’t becoming of one to make a Scene at an airport before the sun has risen, I put part of myself on autopilot. I hugged my friends the best I could. I wanted to download as much of their hug as I could for when I’d need one in the future. Maybe I held on too long, but I won’t apologize for that.
Something about planes always seems more final. You can’t turn a plane around like a car, nor can you hop off at an earlier stop. As the plane went wheels up, a thread was cut and an anvil fell onto my chest. All of the feelings and anxieties I put off the last four months finally had their moment to shine. Not knowing anyone in the strange city, I knew it would be a lonely first few months. I don’t think I ever cried as much as I did then, and I don’t plan to for a while. I reminded myself this is the “fresh start” I wanted, I needed.
After finally falling asleep on my second plane, I woke up in the Emerald City. The first day was a blur of navigating SeaTac airport, resuscitating my phone so I could leave the airport, and reassuring my friends and family I was safe. And, most importantly, happy. I had no idea how much and in exactly what ways my life would change. Let me tell ya something, Toto, we may not have been in Kansas, but we sure as hell weren’t in Illinois anymore either.