When you arrive at LAX and ride the steep escalator down to baggage claim, it's the feet of the person awaiting you that you see first. As you descend past the overhang from the upper floor, the rest of the body gradually comes into view. You see a pair of jeans, a torso in a jacket so familiar you know the feel of it even before the hug. Finally you see that face you can't wait to kiss.
Dan picked me up at LAX dozens of times during the five years we knew each other. Grad school. Fellowships at writer's residencies, visits to see my mom, or friends, or M who was away at college. Almost every month, I went somewhere. Only once was he running late and picked me up at the curb. Every other return, I rode down, watching for the first glimpse of his black and white Nike's.
I flew back to L.A., landing about 7:00 this morning, and let that vision materialize even though he wasn't there. I'd been away all but a couple of days this month, having a wonderful time with three different sets of friends on three different Hawaiian Islands. It was a perfect trip. But there was a surreal comfort in coming home to that image of Dan waiting at the bottom of the escalator. He was here in my house, too. On the beach. In my car. More and more as the weeks and months pass, he's everywhere, and I'm beginning to finagle a sort of peace with that--well, at least some of the time.
I've packed and re-packed for two other trips this September, and that's left no time for house cleaning so today I scrubbed, thoroughly wiped down the kitchen surfaces, opened a laundry basket full of mail, dealt with some of the general clutter all while listening to music. I stopped listening to music when my mom moved in with me two years ago. It seems rude since she can't really hear it, and I worry that if I have the volume too loud I won't be able to hear her if she needs me. This month while she continues to stay with my brother and his girlfriend, I plan to work my way through the almost 7000 songs on Dan's iPod.
It was still summer when I left, but the light shines in at a different angle now. The patio gets very little sun, and the house seems almost chilly. I plan to make this a fall and winter in which I stop complaining about the dark and seek out the light.
Here's one of the songs from the As in the iPod. Dan liked it a lot. Go ahead. Close your eyes. Dance.