Yesterday I bid goodbye to my wife Agnes at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport– it was the fourth time we’ve parted at an airport since we’ve been a couple.
The first time in 1999 was a painful experience replete with regrets and hot tears shed alone then wiped into a pink Mickey Mouse face towel she’d given me as a gift. We were engaged but unsure of the future. She was off to join her mother as a green card holder and I was stuck here as a simple wageslave. I wished I had hugged her and told her not to leave, and made a scene right there at the NAIA entrance, but I knew that would’ve made it a lot harder to separate. So I cried on the way down to the bus stop where I would take a ride home, hollow and depressed.
The second time was in 2000, where there was less drama, but the bus I rode home on was locked onto Radio Romance and ended up making me shed tears to the corny/sweet 70s anthem “I’ll Always Love You.” We had been married a total of four months and she was off to continue with her U.S. life while I went on with my job, living alone in the apartment that used to be filled with her presence but was suddenly merely a shell for my loneliness. She ended up returning to me after only 2 months away, and staying for a long time, and the apartment became home again.
The third time, we parted like barkada. We were in the San Francisco airport and I was headed home to the Philippines after a blissful 4 months with her in the US. I was convinced I would be able to return within months so we parted almost casually, no drama, no tears– not knowing we would be separated by cruel circumstance and the Pacific Ocean for 1.5 years.
This fourth time was last night.
We promised there would be no tears. We’d had 28 of the sweetest days together — little slices of the Paradise promised to us in the next life– and we would not allow ourselves to be sad. Instead we joked and repeated the funniest highlights of our vacation while sipping from a single P30 iced tea at the shameful, dingy excuse of an airport restaurant. When it was time to part, my throat started clenching. I walked away from the entrance gate as she entered, KNOWING instinctively as only a husband can know his wife, that she was on the verge of tears. And if you know Agnes, she aint no crybaby. And that was that. I fought it off as I waited for the bus home, and banished it as I went window shopping for nothing in particular in Cubao. She texted me upon arrival at her Taipei stopover– I had just gotten home without buying a thing. And everything seemed okay. Until I had to get into the bed we’d shared for most of those 28 days which suddenly had no warmth left to give.
Marriage joins two independent spirits into one. After which, reverting back to an independent individual seems impossible and painful.
But we will be together soon.
LINK: My 1999 journal entry on the First Airport Goodbye.