As the day of my departure drew near, I was attacked by a sudden case of nerves. What would happen when Mario and I saw each other again? What if it wasn’t the same? How was I going to fit into his lifestyle? What, how, why…the questions and doubts were never ending. I couldn’t wait to leave and yet I was nervous of what it would be like when I arrived.
When the day finally arrived. Mario had been as giddy as a schoolboy, calling and texting me almost every hour to express his enthusiasm and his impatience for my arrival. Luckily, every time I heard his voice my nerves would calm and a smile would spread across my face. How I loved this man.
At long last I was on the plane, Italy bound. My last minute chat with Mario before my cell phone had to be turned off left me eager for takeoff. But then, as the hours passed, the calm slowly dissipated. Butterflies took a permanent residence in my stomach. Unable to rest due to the loud conversation of the woman across the aisle (don’t people realize that you’re supposed to sleep during an international flight!??!), my mind started whirring a thousand miles a minute until I was no longer sure if I actually wanted the plane to land.
During my long layover in Paris I once again tried to sleep. But to no avail. The discomfort of the chairs, the noise of the fellow passengers and my anxiety made it impossible to relax. I needed to find a way to calm down.
Once it was at all reasonable that Mario would be awake, I made my way over to the payphones. Since my cellphone was useless oversees, I depended on an old international calling card to connect me to the man I loved.
I hadn’t waited quite long enough. Mario’s voice was thick with sleep, though he magnanimously denied that I had woken him up. I had only a few minutes left on my card, but it calmed my soul to hear his voice. He was delighted by my surprise phone call and assured me that everything was ready for my arrival. We just had a few more hours of separation ahead of us.
The phone call was like a tonic, but it wasn’t strong enough. Once again, as I boarded the plane that would take me to Pisa, I could feel the anxiety rising. And now I was battling exhaustion, which only served to heighten my emotions.
I fell into an uneasy doze, waking with a jerk every time a stewardess passed by or we hit a pocket of turbulence. By the time we finally arrived, I was physically and emotionally spent.
While there was a part of me that wanted to rush through the doors to where Mario was waiting, my feet seemed glued to the floor. Slowly I went through customs and headed over to the baggage claim. I could feel my hands start to tremble as I waited for my suitcases to arrive. One by one I pulled them off the turnstile, and turned towards the exit. Only a pair of double doors separated me from Mario.
With my bags in hand I stared at the doors. The other passengers swept by me until I was the only one left in the baggage claim. My breath started coming so fast I feared that I would begin to hyperventilate. Shaking myself, and uttering a desperate prayer for peace, I took a deep breath and forced my feet to move towards the door.
As I crossed through the barrier, the first thing I saw was Mario. Waiting at the front of the gate, his face broke into a huge smile as soon as he saw me. My heart started racing as all the feelings of loneliness over the past few months swept over me. I couldn’t tear my eyes off his face and my step quickened as I headed toward him. As I neared him, my hands released my bags and I rushed straight into his open arms.
Immediately all my nerves vanished.
I was home.