It is becoming too familiar for me—the slow space of airports, people watching, the shuffle onto the big metal flying contraption, tucked in with other travelers like cattle. I move in a hazy gait, hearing the screaming child, the loud woman complaining into her phone, pulling a family apart. The cacophony does not process.
Every time I leave Milwaukee the plane takes a piece of my soul. I move away from roads woven into my veins, from familiar stomping grounds with my family’s memory stamped into the damp earth and squeaky floorboards. Even the lights from towns south of the city glow as my own, as I claim the land and all its inhabitants.
How could I be myself in two different places? How could I give to the people I so desperately want to reach when I am continuously being cut in half? Routine of the unhappy familiar—the journey holds on autopilot.
The chair is warm from a previous passenger. I shift beneath the seatbelt and pore over the silhouettes outside the window. The men who wave the plane into motion.
Lights are blinking along the tarmac odd flashes of gold and green and red that seem to want to connect but miss one another. The faintest tint of color in the air. I am not ready to be taken away again, to be so practiced at saying goodbye.
The woman next to me looks at a fashion magazine. She wants to be beautiful. And she is, because she is aged and has seen so much of this life.
Chatter from the seats behind me. Young girls going back to school. It seems the whole world is at peace with how it spins except me.
Buildings fade into the night, shrinking as they climb the sky. I hold my breath, trying to keep the remnants of home secure in my lungs. I don’t want to breathe in the loneliness. Do not want to come up for air in a foreign city.
Light strands arrange in patterns that I assemble from above. They don’t blink, these constellations on the ground. I trace my name between the glow. So tired of saying goodbye as if it didn’t rip me apart each time I expelled the word from my mouth. As if the world would stop to fix my brokenness.