The heat was borderline oppressive, stacking on top of itself in thick blocks, barely letting heat waves escape it. Yet it wasn’t the wet, smothering neutron star that was a normal hot day in Cincinnati. I was in San Francisco and I could still breathe; my lungs weren’t crushed. Still, I wondered why so many homes had no fans or AC was also of better quality. With the steep decline in my health over the past year, I was certainly grateful for the higher quality of healthcare available to me. I shuffled around in this glass enclosure, begging the tram to appear quickly. I was one of the blessed few not carrying luggage. I would be weighed down by nothing, for once I was in the depths of the airport I would be bathed in delicious coolness. Finally, the tram arrived and I eagerly crammed myself aboard between the many bodies and baggage. I found a blank spot on the wall to stare at, telling myself I could imagine more space around me. To look at them was to bring them closer. There were only two people I wanted to look at and bring closer right now.
I slipped my headphones on as the tram hurtled through the terminals. My heart began to race as the first chords of “Death is the Road to Awe” floated out of the ether. The gentle, haunting melody played as I was drawn inexorably closer to my stop. Space seemed to bend and people seemed to pulse. In and out. Close and far away. The edges of the terminal shrank further and further away, the people around became background, and distance had no meaning. Frantic, excited notes began to play in my head as I neared the gate I was looking for. My heartbeat was the only thing that beat erratically out of tune. I noticed the music was louder now. The volume had crescendoed without me being completely aware of it.
And then it intensified. People were deboarding the plane. Any moment now I would see them. My hearts. I momentarily debated biting my nails but remembered I’d survived thus far without resorting to it. I took a deep breath and the music thrummed through my being, vibrating along with my atoms. It had been so long. Too long. I almost feared they hadn’t really come, that I’d never see them again. My breathing grew slower and deeper as passengers drifted past me, as the song grew more and more frenetic in preparation of its conclusion. As the tension in the music grew to uncomfortable levels I caught sight of a familiar face. Chocolate brown skin with cinnamon layered beneath. My heart pounded harder in my chest and a new pressure built, compacting every particle of my being. He was looking down at a much smaller and lighter-skinned person with my face, guiding him out of the gate and into the concourse. My heart leaped and jumped over the edge as both their eyes rose and found me standing there.
My heart stopped beating.
The music gave way to silence.
The world scrambled and burst into new life. The music resumed triumphantly, letting me know it wasn’t over. My heart beat again. Tears sprang from our eyes as we collapsed into one another. My miracle and my mirror, here at long last. We held on as the music swelled and then cooled. When it stopped, we held hands and I took off my headphones. Another song began to play from the speaker as we strolled along with our hearts and souls expanding faster than the speed of light. The gentle, rolling, travelling notes of “End of the Beginning” accompanied us and echoed throughout the terminal-filled with ever-growing clusters of people-as we started over on a new adventure.