An excuse to rise so very early, I love driving to the airport for the first flight out. It's nice to be going, myself, but better to be taking someone. Someone special I love enough to jump out from the warm covers without hitting the snooze though it is pitch black. Start the coffee, quick shower. Listen for the awakening and groans of the traveler who reveled to the last moment with old friends, the clunking of the suitcase down the stairs.

Wait for the light at the corner. Vacant intersection. No one driving through McDonalds yet. No one at Sonic for the breakfast burrito combo with tater tots. Two cars in the Albertsons parking lot.

Will there be time? There will for a bagel after baggage check-in and security and cream cheese. Did you print out the boarding pass? Pack the phone charger? I only worry because I love you.

Dusty pink neon halos in the darkness. The tollway welcomes with widespread on-ramps. Flash through the toll plaza two left lanes toll tag only. The moon amazes.

Skating. So effortless just like a favorite dream. Floating through the darkness, hanging weightless on the interchange bridges, overlooking the whole world. Travel time to I35 at 5:55 is estimated at 5 minutes on the big computerized sign.

Chilly. Spare. So hard to say I love you please be careful. Sip scalding coffee from the travel mug and comment on the radio news. Planes approach through a grainy charcoal/lilac/faded denim sky. More taillights now.

Past the big shopping mall. Warehouse's open doors looking clear through. Office windows reflect rows of beautiful sunrise eyes.

Flat. Land spreading out a vast linen tablecloth. Remote parking lots for plates. Control tower goblets. Jets parked like silver chafing dishes. Anticipation the first bite after the amen, the first pitch after the national anthem.

Going. To. Away. Or back. Arriving at Departures lower level. Wheely luggage and escalators. But first a big hug for your old mommy. Quick. Unloading only no parking or standing.

Pride Love Relief Grief cloud my view of the signage for the exit looping around the terminals as the tarmac gets rosy, silver, Delft blue, and wool dress slacks black. A thin band of gold around the rim.

Heading home I can breathe now. Red-tailed hawks perch on highway lights over I635. Peering down regal. Self-contained.

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder

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