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5 Minutes to Yes

February 15, 2011

July 21, 2007.

Running. Running so fast I almost want to laugh but I’m afraid if I do I’ll have to stop running and I don’t want to miss this plane.

Signs in German are flashing past over my head. I don’t register what they say – I’m just following numbers looking for 36N – but the fact that they’re there registers somewhere deep in my consciousness, pulling up old memories.

Your dad is running with me, darting around families and business people and little old ladies, all of whom are taking way too long to meander towards their gates, secure in the knowledge that they’re not about to miss their flight. I catch a glimpse of him, running fast but delicately, the way he does, springing off his toes as though this wasn’t a sprint. I know he probably wants to body check some of these slow people, but he’s way too polite for that.

I don’t know where your Farmor is – she’s gone on ahead, driven in a much more stately manner in one of those golf cart things that’s blessed with a horn to move the herds of travellers when someone needs to get somewhere fast. There wasn’t room for us, but I prefer the run.

I’ve been in lots of airports in my time. Lots? Enough. I’ve been fortunate with travel, confidently encouraged by your Grandma to go places I wasn’t sure I was brave enough to go. Now, running through the Frankfurt airport, the memory that’s stirring is of the first time I was here, as a shy, scared 15-year-old about to embark upon an adventure. I want you to know this feeling I have now. This knowing that it’s scary, yes. And exciting and overwhelming and life changing. To get to spend time in another country, another culture, is a gift. I’ve done it as an exchange student – here in Germany for four months, without my family, without all that’s familiar to me, without even really knowing the language – leaving me with the knowledge that I can do it. I’ve done it as a backpacker – on my own, and with others. With your dad. I’ve done it as a tourist. I’ve done it as a professional who has occasionally had to pretend that getting up and talking in front of a whole bunch of people I don’t know, who have years more experience than I do, is a piece of cake. Having done it, I know those experiences are what make me who I am. Having done it, I will always choose to do it again. I will always choose yes.

But for now I’m running. The lights overhead are bright and the airport is busy. It’s full of the sounds of people – people talking, people laughing, people rolling wheeled suitcases down laminated halls. But I don’t really hear these things. I hear your dad’s footsteps beside me. I hear my own heart pounding in my chest. I hear, occasionally, an airport announcement and I listen more closely to see if they’re calling our names.

It has seemed like ages, but it’s really just a matter of minutes and we’re there. Farmor is there and we’ve made it, with some time to spare even. And right next to our gate is a book shop. Right out front is a display featuring the latest – the last – Harry Potter book, which has just come out today. Your dad doesn’t hesitate – walks right into the shop and buys a copy.

I wish I could share this feeling with you. This feeling I have here, now, in this scene – the trip to Sweden to see family, the run through a familiar-and-yet-not airport where I first found my wandering spirit, the last-minute dash to buy a book we both can’t wait to savour. It’s a scene bursting with things that make life so beautiful and things I hope life will offer you. And when the offers come, I hope you will choose yes.

 

———

This post is in response to a new series of memoir prompts at The Red Dress Club:

For this week, we want you to imagine that after you have died and your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see? Tell us about them in the finest detail. Maximum word count: 700 words.


 

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2011 5:21 am

    You captured the pace, the spirit, the message.. perfectly. Wow, I hung on every word and devoured it like I would a Harry Potter book. I really enjoyed this!

  2. February 15, 2011 8:24 pm

    Great take on the prompt! I love the message of being open to new things, even if they seem scary.

  3. February 15, 2011 7:53 pm

    Oh, I like this so much! Wasn’t at all sure where you were going with it in the beginning…thought maybe you were going to lose somebody. Instead, you found a lot of things. Those lessons, those blinding flashes of the obvious we have in places like the airport–those are the things most important to tell our children, yet so often we run so fast that we’ve forgotten what we meant to remember by the time we have the chance. (If that makes any sense.)

    Beautifully done!

  4. Briegh permalink
    February 15, 2011 3:00 pm

    love this R.

  5. February 15, 2011 11:45 am

    I love this! All the things you want to teach your kids. The things you hope they will experience in their life. The decisions you hope they’ll make.

  6. February 15, 2011 10:46 am

    Ah, beautiful. I was right there with you… there is nothing quite like the hustle and bustle of an airport, especially when you’re running late. The gift of travel and reading šŸ™‚ are amazing ones.

  7. February 15, 2011 10:38 am

    I cannot get enough of this story. All the stories over at TRDC today. I am completely ignoring all the things I ought to be doing and am reading instead!

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