airport-739311_640It was late night and I was alone. At LAX, a pinpoint on the daily passenger map, estimated back then at 50 million people a day. A minuscule ant among those traveling hither-thither-and-yon.

Scared. You bet I was. Even a near miss wouldn’t do: I needed to re-unite with my man. Trepidation seeping into every cell, marshaling them into alliance with my fear-chilled thoughts.

I was also physically chilled, despite my Chicago coat. At 50 degrees, Californians balk.

Larry was returning from business travel in Colorado, as ever he seemed to be. I was returning from a solo family visit in the Midwest. The tensions and the joys, everlastingly known, had depleted my spirit. I longed for a hug, to be safe in his arms.

The plan to meet at the airport, even though our airline terminals weren’t the same – to drive home together in his car left in the vast, inexpensive-at-that-time, airport parking lot – had seemed simple when presented. He had strength, he had trust that it would work. I wished that his trust would infuse me now, to embolden me for the monumental chore of meeting him in the midst of this morass.

I longed for his bouyance, his hug.

Instead, I was hugging myself, though the double-armed gesture was more to hold myself together, as I plunged into the fray, my roller bag following me like a sheep. I longed for eyes in the back of my head, or one on my forehead to searchlight his smile. Head down against a slight rain, snuggled in my winter coat, I obeyed the WALK sign and stepped off the over-crowded curb.

And when I lifted my head, pulled by an unseen miracle thread, there he was: Larry, smiling at me and extending his arms wide to enfold me, mid-pedestrian crosswalk at LAX.

Neither of us sported a carnation in our lapel, which was likely good: it would have been crushed in our hug of relief.

It was the moment in a movie where the music swells, the violins wailing away worry. Suddenly, the millions of people, of nationalities known and unknown, vanished. It was if he were the only person in the world. He was a brilliantly shining needle in a haystack.

1937213_10207306411872129_5187463480835371526_nJust as he found me at a Purdue post-grad party and scooped me into his safety net. February 16, 1974 was the original sighting of my savior, the one who covers me in this world. Our meeting that night was a miracle, too. Neither had intended to attend the party that night, neither felt they needed someone.

While this is a more recent pose, on a New Zealand beach head, it is classic: hey world, here I am. I embrace you: 40 countries and 50 states to date. I fling myself into orbit to explore the world to scoop up as much exuberance as I hand out.

A big birthday looms and a huge anniversary milestone is rounding the bend. What gracious splendor can I offer such a calmly competent, stand-up friend?

We need ideas for where to go next, Constant Reader. Bless us with your best suggestions!

Got cash to sweeten the ideas?!