My eyes were still fresh from the tears I shed while saying goodbye to my mother. I boarded the first plane with a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat. As complicated as the human body is, it's sometimes impossible for it to handle the even more complicated emotions it's faced with. I sat nervously in my window seat, and was immediately greeted by an older woman. She spoke oddly and frequently. It was going to be one of those flights. Luckily, it was my shortest.
Awkward conversation turned into somewhat pleasant conversation. Upon hearing the reason for my travel, she revealed to me that she was gay herself (which didn't come as much of a surprise.) Hearing my story passing through my lips, my excitement and her perception of it, eased the nerves and obliterated any lingering sadness. We talked about gay rights and how the times have changed. Before I knew it, I'd landed in Chicago.
The flight from Chicago to Warsaw wasn't nearly as long as I'd expected. I took a pill to sleep, and was actually successful, although it was brief and choppy. I read the Sarah Silverman memoir I'd been saving for the trip almost in its entirety.
The memory of this and my last flight blur. Soon I was gazing at the coast of Spain, hoping each little outbreak of civilization that emerged would be Barcelona. This went on for almost an hour. Finally, I could make out familiar landmarks. The plane landed. My luggage was among the first to appear on the conveyor belt (this never happens.) I walked around the "items to claim" area and without even a blip of security, passed through to the awaiting crowd where I almost immediately made out David's face. He was jumping and waving to me. I paused and dropped some of my baggage for a second to wave back.
The reunion wasn't even close to the movie-like moment both of us had been imagining for so many months. He approached me even before I'd crossed the red line on the floor. We embraced... awkwardly. We'd simply grown unaccustomed to seeing each other in the flesh. I think both of us, for a few minutes there, wished we had had our Macbooks handy to initiate a Skype connection so that our minds could draw their own connection between the persons we loved and the bodies before us. Within a half hour, we were in a taxi. I was so excited to finally see our new home. The weirdness had been completely replaced with an indescribable satisfaction. The cab meandered through a city both familiar and new.
"Here is fine," David told the driver at an intersection in the center of the city. Though unfamiliar, I was certain we were nowhere near our new address.
"We're getting out here?" I asked, confused.
"Yes." Baffled, I complied.
"What are we doing?" I finally asked as we walked my suitcases down the sidewalk.
"It's a surprise," he semi-answered.
Concern radiating off me, "This wouldn't happen to be a surprise involving other people?" I was a mess, in desperate need of a shower. "David?!"
"Just trust me."
I huffed as he lead me into a very posh hotel. I muttered something about how we'd agreed that the "hotel thing" was unnecessary now that we had our own home to spend our first nights in.
"I'll explain soon," he assured me. I tried to put on a pleasant face as we checked in and were lead up to our suite.
As soon as I walked into our gorgeous, temporary abode, my frustration and resentment vanished. It was über chic.
We were greeted by champagne and fruit, as well as a card. He explained that the whole thing was a gift from his cousin, Sonia. She had planned it before we knew we'd have place to call home so soon, and even after the fact she insisted. Then he went over a little itinerary we had for the next two days, all compliments of Sonia. We barely had time to get settled before we had to get robes on and head down to the spa for a sauna session for two.
Later in the evening, we set out on foot to find a place to eat. Just observing the streets and plazas was exhilarating and exhausting. I fell in love with this city before, when I knew my time here was limited. Now I am here to stay. Will I ever fit in? Will this ever truly feel like home?
We settled on one of David's favorite restaurants in the city, Rita Blue. It was tucked in the corner of a gorgeous plaza that was bursting with nightlife. We dined on delicious tapas and Sangría. I smoked indoors.
We didn't stay too long. My stomach felt a little destroyed from jet lag and all of the nerves from the past 24 hours. We walked home and soon went to bed, clinging to each other as if the unconsciousness to come could undo all of the wonders that day had contained.