I drove to Bonnie's, knowing she would probably be home from work about now. She was. I had a cup of coffee with her and said my final goodbyes. I didn't want to let go of the twins. I have come to love them all so much. "How are you getting to the airport?' She asked me.
"I have it covered." I told her.
"I can give you a ride." She offered.
"That's okay." I said. "Thanks anyway."
Looking back, it was leaving her and the twins that was the hardest thing to do.
The next thing I knew, I was at the airport and checking in my duffel bag. Since I had a couple of hours to spare, I walked to the bar to have a few drinks. Before long, I felt a pair of eyes on me, and those eyes helped themselves in the chair next to me. "Lori?"
She was giving me a hard stare. "You been back for two weeks and didn't even bother to stop by and say hello?'
"I didn't think there was anything to talk about." But then it occurred to me. "How did you know I was here?"
"Here at the airport, or here at the bar?"
"Waylon told me you were back. Bonnie told me when you're plane was leaving. As for the bar, I didn't see you at the terminal so I took a guess." Then she had a question for me. "Where's your car?"
"After leaving Bonnie's, I dropped it off at the dealership." I explained. "I took a cab here."
"You returned the car?"
"I know." I giggled. "But it's just a car. I'll get another one when I get home."
"So you're really leaving?"
I nodded my head. "I miss my family. I want to see my little sister. It's the best thing for me right now."
"It feels so strange." She mumbled. "I can't explain it, but just knowing you were still around .... and now ....."
"Why did you come here, Lori?"
"I'm not sure myself." She answered. "I keep getting the feeling there's more to us than even we might know."
"No there isn't." I quickly thwarted that thought. "I think we are what we were."
There was a slight pause. A quiet that settled in between us. I could tell she was searching for the right words to say. Sometimes, there's no such thing. "What if I don't want it to be over?'
"It's not up to you or me." I made clear. "There's just too much damage that has been done. Too much pain."
She grabbed my arm. "We can do better, Carroll, I know it. Waylon told me what he said to you that night. Let's go home and talk about it. I'll tell you everything."
"I don't want to know everything." I countered. "I know too much as it is. And I am going home. Chillicothe is my home."
"Just when I thought we were friends." She stammered. I quickly rushed to inform her. "We are friends, Lori. Always."
"Why doesn't it feel like it then?"
"Because right now, we're exhausted. Life is changing for both of us. Change is often times hard to accept."
"Bernie misses you." She dangled.
"No." I had to stop that tactic in its tracks. "Don't do that. Don't use Bernie as a pawn." She began to show signs of breaking down, right there in the bar. I reached for her. "You have my parents address. Their phone number. When I get settled, I'll call you. We can talk on the phone, okay? We'll see where it goes from there, but let's face it, things are screwed up right now."
She bowed her head then lifted it up. "Hey, Waylon apologized to me for that night when I was 14."
"Good." I said.
She smiled. "Why do I get the feeling that you had something to do with it?'
"Because that's what you want to believe. He did it on his own."
"Right." She doubted. "Would it matter if I said I was now in counseling?"
"It only matters for you." I told her. "That's a good thing. Come to terms with it, and deal with it. That is good for you."
"But it's not good for us, is it?"
"Maybe. Down the road perhaps. Who knows?" Suddenly, my flight was announced. "That's me." I quipped.
We got to our feet. "Can I walk you to the gate?"
I put my arm around her and off we went. Once we got close, we stopped. She reached up and gave me a hug. "I still love you so much." She whispered.
"I still love you." I whispered back.
She began to straighten up my shirt. "Have a safe flight. It's snowing pretty hard out there. I can only imagine how bad it might be in Ohio."
For one brief moment, I didn't want to leave. I stood there looking in her eyes, but had to shake any thoughts of reconciliation off. Truth is, I think we just reconciled. I turned and made my way to the tunnel and forced myself not to look back. Had I done so, I may have changed my mind. I couldn't risk it.
The party is over. I have gone away.
I found my seat and settled in. Window seat. Moments later, a girl sat down in the aisle seat next to me. The middle seat remained empty. "Hi." She greeted. "My name is Rhonda."
"Carroll." I returned the greeting.
"Nice to meet you, Carroll. What's that in your shirt pocket?"
"Oh, my little notebook." I told her, taking it out to show. "I write poetry in it. I never know when inspiration is going to strike."
"Oh, so you're a writer? With your haircut, I pegged you for military."
"I was military." I said. "Going home now. For good."
"Who was that with you at the gate?" She asked, then apologized. "Sorry, I'm nosey."
"Don't be sorry. It's quite all right. That was my ex fiancee'."
"Really?" She appeared surprised. "She's very pretty."
"Yes, she is."
Just then, a flight attendant came strolling by with a cart. "We're going to be delayed due to the weather. Would either of you like a snack or beverage?"
Rhonda declined. "No thanks."
I rushed to be a gentleman. "Nonsense, Rhonda, have a drink with me. I'm buying."
That put a wider smile on her already smiling face. "Thanks Carroll. Hey, do you have anything written in that notebook?"
"I think I have a few in there."
"Can I read them?"
I handed it over to her. "Sure."
It became quiet for about ten minutes when the pilot finally announced our departure. We were slowly heading to the runway. "Finally." Rhonda blurted. She handed the notebook back to me. "Not bad. You're pretty good."
"Thanks, Rhonda. When we get airborne, I'll buy you another drink if you like."
"Are you trying to get me drunk?" She teased.
"Who? Me?" I teased in return.
So there it was. The end of my Norfolk chapter. A part of my life I will never forget. The friends, the girls, the good times, the bad times, the emotions, and let us not forget, the music. I stared out the window watching the snow flurries flail about in the cold wind. I was going home. I can't even begin to describe how I was feeling inside. I was leaving so much behind.
It's funny though, when you consider the two tiny organs in your body, the heart and the brain, how much they can carry. Feelings, thoughts, emotions and memories. So much to hold in such tiny compartments.
Maybe this party was over, the past put to bed, but perhaps another party lies in waiting. The future. Nervous as I was about what that future might hold, it did make me feel alive. I place my trust in the universe. If I remain true to it, it will never let me down. This I believed as the plane began to shoot into the night sky.
And maybe I thought I would find myself in a strange town like Norfolk when in hindsight, I left myself back in Ohio. One thing was for certain, I had a feeling that the wild and crazy events that the universe threw my way, was bound to cease. Normalcy would be welcomed back into my life again. I couldn't wait.
I sat there observing the night lights below. It was like when you move out from a house you grew up in, you can't help but reflect to your time there. It's like saying goodbye to an old friend. I nodded with quiet satisfaction.
Good bye old friend. Goodbye to the best damn party ever!
Suddenly, I was brought back to reality.
"Hey Carroll?" Rhonda killed the silence. "Can I ask you a question?"
"Sure, Rhonda, ask me anything you like."
She leaned across the empty seat and in a low tone. "Have you ever heard of the mile high club?"
Okay, so maybe this party isn't quite over yet.