My mother has given me memories of my very young self, saying to departing things in a particular, mournful way, "Bye bye, [thing]." Example: "Bye bye, tree" (to the Christmas tree). I can't remember what else I parted from that way--probably planes, buses, the garbage man, my blanket when she washed it, my father, my mother, the daylight, my books, my youth, the moon. Now I am saying again and again (just to myself, because the small plane that will take me to the big plane is delayed, and I don't think that my boarding gate companions would appreciate my vocal stylings), "Bye bye, Ohio. Bye bye."
A family in the boarding gate is crying and crying, a scene that I haven't seen much in airports since we stopped being able to accompany passengers down to the gate. And a young man near them just said, "I'm about to cry." I find myself wondering what I don't know about what's happening here. I think that these men might be en route to Iraq, but I'm thrown off by their not being in uniform. But one of them--the one who just said he's about to cry, who's obviously saying goodbye to his girlfriend--has a tattoo that reads USMC. I have to say: this scene puts my departure into a totally different perspective. And I find myself really glad, for these people's sake, that our flight has been delayed for awhile.
If Charlotte has free wireless, I may pop in later with tales of the day. Otherwise, you'll hear from me again when I've reached the other side.
So here's the thing: it's qualitatively different to go overseas now than it was the last time I left for a year (which was, to be sure, twelve years ago). Then, my whole family stood within view the whole time I walked down the jetway in Indianapolis, and we knew that even phone calls home would be almost prohibitively expensive. Thirty minutes ago, I was on the (one-way) computervideophone with my beloved Lexingtonians; thirty minutes before that, I was chatting over iChat with my parents; thirty minutes before that, I spoke with my favorite Chicagoan friend for half an hour and spent only $.60 because we were speaking through the computer. And as soon as I have an IP address in my new room, I'll be able to start calling people just as though I never left home. It's reassuring, and not a little bit strange.
And that's not even to mention the mind-blowing weirdness of being able to choose whether or not to liveblog one's own progress toward another country.
We are coming up on general boarding, so this time I'm out for real. "Maintain control of your carry-on baggage," I have been admonished for hours. Sometimes it's not so easy.