There is Before, and then there will be After

Just a few hours now.

I’ve allowed myself to imagine, in fair detail, the moment when we meet at the airport because that much is now a certainty.

Well, “certainty” seemed like the right word when I originally drafted this post. But then a technical problem resulted in his first flight being cancelled, which threw everything off, and he had to scramble to make alternate arrangements. But even though he’s delayed by almost 24 hours, he’s still en route and will arrive soon — gods willing, inshallah, and touch wood.

I recently read a book in which the narrator, an Argentine, gets a scholarship to study in Oxford. As he contemplates flying around the world to a country he’s never visited before, it seems to him like it mostly exists in his imagination: surely it would be easier, in an Occam’s razor sort of way, for the universe to simply ruin the trip rather than to have to make all of England actually exist. I’m finding it a bit hard to believe that Gawan is really going to be here, especially when the universe could take a shortcut and just ruin the trip. (I dunno. Maybe it tried to.)

I know the time of his arrival and the flight number. I’ll watch online as the last wee airplane icon crawls (excruciatingly slowly) toward my city.

I know the airport well and I can envision the approach both from my side and from his. Where I’ll park, and the door I’ll come through. Where I’ll be standing. The interior of the building, the little scrum of people waiting for arrivals, even the quality of the light. Picking his face out of the crowd. What I’ll look like from his viewpoint. I see him, I smile and wave. His face lights up, he has seen me, we make eye contact. We close the gap between us as quickly as we can, face to face, finally in each other’s presence after so many months, and then…

The knowable will have finally spooled out to the end of its reel. We’ll be confronted by uncertainty, potential. The unknown.

For months we’ve been planting seeds, while we flirt and chat and joke and muse. And in those first moments after we meet, we’ll start to discover whether and which of those seeds will sprout. It’s a hinge-point in our friendship… relationship, whatever it is.

There is Before, and then there will be After.

I have my thoughts and wishes, but from this point they get more and more speculative. What follows is currently drawn in faint shadows. Right now anything I might imagine is fiction – well researched fiction, but fiction nonetheless. And I don’t want to get attached to any particular story for fear of setting myself up for disappointment, since it can’t possibly match reality.

One way or another, it’s very likely that I’ll have a good time and a story to tell. In this way, it’s like a (super-ultra-deluxe) first date. It’s hard not to have hopes and expectations, but I’m doing my best to stay in the moment and not get ahead of myself, just enjoy it for whatever it may be, regardless of what follows.

I’ve got a few photo posts scheduled, but this is likely my last text post for the next couple of weeks as I don’t expect to have internet access while I’m away.

So. That’s that. And now the butterflies have started in earnest.