It was supposed to be an easy travel day. Stressful, for sure, but easy. Just go to the airport, through security, get on a plane, change in Dallas, and end up in Southern California. Simple. The only problem was that Vanessa had somehow become mildly agoraphobic over the years. Now, as she stepped out of her husband’s car, gave him a quick hug and kiss, and started walking towards the terminal a wave of anxiety hit her.
The anxiety amplified the sounds of the airport. As soon as she walked through the doors, the commotion overwhelmed her. She stood in the doorway, not in, not out, frozen in panic, as people rushed by her from all directions. Eventually, she was bumped quite hard. Her cell phone fell from her had and landed directly on its face. It shattered, sending glass pieces across the floor. No one helped, they just parted and avoided the phone and Michelle at all costs, like she was handing out flyers on a street corner.
She cried out, “No!” Feeling the panic hit a new level, she rushed over to the phone, realizing it was not only shattered but completely dead as well. Her boarding pass was on there. Her Uber app was there for the ride from the airport to her mother-in-law’s house. Her phone was there. She couldn’t even call her husband to ask him what she should do next.
Tears streamed down her face, and her childhood came rushing back. She was no longer a mature woman standing in the airport, she was a teenager hiding in an alley behind a dumpster, hoping to God that no one found her before daylight. She feebly looked around for someone to help, but the airport was crowded this Tuesday morning, more so because it was the Tuesday after Memorial Day, one of the busiest travel days each year.
She remembered how things used to be at the airport, and realized she’d have to stand in some sort of line now that she didn’t have a boarding pass. She looked to find the end of the line for American Airlines and without asking anyone, or trying to cut to the front, she went to the end of the line, which was beyond the limits of the roped off area, it was past the other airlines entry points as well, and stretched down the foyer into a long hallway. With eyes cast down, and shoulders rolled forward, she moved to the end of the line. She spoke to no one. She tried to hold back her tears, failing miserably. Tears fell from her face and to the floor, making the marble slippery. People noticed the woman standing in line with her head down crying, sobbing.
After 30 minutes with very little movement forward, the person in front of her, an older woman, asked Vanessa if she was ok. “I’ll be fine, thanks,” she said. She tried to stop the tears and wiped her face. She didn’t wear makeup, so outside of bloodshot eyes, there were no signs of her misery. Except for her posture and mannerisms, that is.
The long slow wait was good for her. It allowed her to calm somewhat after the initial wave of anxiety hit. She started to feel better. She looked at her watch and wasn’t sure how much time she had left before her flight boarded. She had been two hours early, so she assumed she still had time until her flight left.
She got to the counter and explained the situation – she needed a boarding pass. She fumbled for her ID, hands shaking, and was given a boarding pass and an empathetic smile and headed off to security, where the agent had pointed her.
Another long line. She did still have an hour until boarding, but the line looked long. She started to feel the panic build and tried to fight it. She flushed and was sure she had a fever. Again going to the end of the line, she waited with her thoughts.
How would she get a new phone while in California? She’d have to borrow her sister-in-law’s phone to let her husband know what was going on, maybe he could get her a new phone. She remembered how long it took him to set up a new phone when they upgraded the last time and realized that she’d need the phone sooner than that. She’d have to go into an AT&T store herself to get a new phone. She started to think she’d spend the whole next six days dealing with phone issues instead of caring for her mother-in-law. A tear rolled down her cheek as she fought the new wave of anxiety.
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