At 12:45, I was sitting in the lot behind the Round House Cafe, Maria and I were texting one another, we were texting as she entered the airport, waited in the security line, stood outside the gate, boarded the plane. We were talking about her fear and her excitement, the ups and downs of this trip even before it began.
We are always together, I said, even when we are apart.
As she took her seat on the flight, originally scheduled for Sunday night, she said she was a bit nervous, "it's all kind strange, just getting used to it."
I said imagine five years ago, would you have thought of doing this? She texted back, "That makes me feel good, thinking that. Thank you."
She thanked me for not being one of those men who would be threatened by her taking a trip, and I thanked her for that. I cannot imagine why I would be anything but happy about this trip.
She sent me a photo of a gray bag with elephants on it, it contained socks, earplugs, toothpaste and a brush, it was complimentary from the airline. She loved the bag, and then she told me the plane offered 91 different movies. She was impressed with the aircraft.
As always, we were each worried about the other. I assured her that I wasn't doing too much shoveling, that I wasn't too lonely, that I would take care of myself and let people help me if I needed help. I reminded her to find the exciting part of this trip and to think ahead to Kolkata and teaching those girls how to make her potholders.
She always brightens up at that. I'm sure it is difficult for her to leave her donkeys, pony, farm and studio. She is so at home here.
Maria is not an easy traveler, she is not at peace on airplanes, and I did wish for a moment that I was there with her. We ground one another.
And then I wished that she was here with me. A lot of feeling, a lot of emotion. I told her I might cry a bit when she took off – suddenly, this was very real – and she said that might make her cry again.
I told her to get excited again.
Then, I sent a message that she didn't answer. The plane was leaving the gate, phones were being turned off.
My last message to her: "you gone?"
But there was no reply. She was gone. It was real.
In the air for the next 12 hours, out of reach and contact with me for the first time in a long time, eight or nine years. She has never been out of reach before, and this was a very different feeling for me, it hit me hard, opened a bit hole in my heart, I did cry, just a bit. I imagine she did too, she cries openly and easily.
I drove home, and went into the back yard and shoveled a path to her studio, I wanted it to be clear and accessible. I know when I miss her, I will go sit in her studio for a few minutes – she gave me permission, because her spirit is very strong there. I can be with her there.
The snow was heavy and tall, I shoveled the path quickly and intensely.
Jack Macmillan, a neighbor and friend, was driving me, and he saw me shoveling and pulled into the driveway and came out to the back. He was just checking up on me. "You need any help?," he asked. But I didn't, and I thanked him for checking on me.
It is a good feeling to have people checking up on you, and also a strange feeling, because it does suggest worry. I am not used to being worried about. Open up to it, I told myself, it's a good thing.
So this trip to India, a wonderful thing, is very real now. After all this time and preparation.
Maria will be in the air for 12 hours, then 16 more hours in Dubai. Soon, she will be teaching the victims of sex trafficking how to make art and earn money.
I have purchased a massage and room service meal there for her in Dubai, she will like that, she would never spend that on herself, but loves a massage. I am very happy for her, and very happy for me to be her lover and friend.
Some people were posting tracking links for her flight on Facebook, and I took them down, even though I know they were well-intentioned.
I think it is up to her to share those details, and she will, and so will I, with her permission. I don't think she would care to be tracked. But it is her story to tell, and she is telling it beautifully already. She is deep in the Ritual Of Initiation.
We are not used to being apart, and anything new is healthy and revealing. This trip has already changed her and made her strong and confident, and it is just beginning. With a bang, a 14-inch snowstorm.
She's gone, off to the other side of the world.