The man of the house is home.
He is outside cleaning the vehicles, because that is what he does.
In preparation for his return, last night I closed all of the three windows and turned on the A/C. Before I did, I gave the temperature a passing glance.
It was eighty nine degrees inside the house. Of course, last night was more sweltering than usual, as the thunderstorm overhead refused to break, and instead kept all the heat pressed down against the earth. Everything was hot and sticky and still.
So when I felt the first delicate wash of cold air come drifting down from the ceiling vent, I breathed it in deeply and waited in anticipation for more.
This morning, approaching the pick up curb at the airport, I somehow got confused and ended up on the wrong side of the road, many lanes away from where the passengers stood, hopeful amid their luggage.
Panic struck. I could not stop, or at least, I didn't think so. There were no parking spaces, way, way over on the left hand side where I was.
Perhaps I would have to go all the way around, and approach again, but what a ghastly thought that was! How many options for further failure and entanglement that route contained- what exits wrongly taken, what mysterious turn-arounds going nowhere, what ramps to major, unidentified highways might be lurking, deceptively beckoning me on and further away from, and with no way to return to, the one person who was my only goal.
All this flashed through my mind in but a moment. In the next, I spotted Keith standing just behind me, across all five lanes.
He was standing, all tall and blue in his faded jeans and button down shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and his hands on his hips. With his height and width of shoulder, he cut quite a figure, in my humble opinion.
Immediately, I stopped the car. I had hardly been moving forward, in any case, due to the traffic. I called him. I watch him startle a bit, as one does, when one's cell phone rings, and then look down, and reach inside his pocket.
"Well, hello sweetie..." he began, in his usual calm, tenor voice, unaware of the current emergency unfolding right before his eyes.
"I'm here! I'm right here! Can you see me! I'm in the wrong lane! Can you come across?" was my excited message to him.
His response was brief, calm and affirmative. I waited, watching the crosswalk ahead of me, to catch sight of him, towing his suitcase behind him. Moments passed, and I did not see him.
The suspense was killing me, seeing that at any moment, whatever was holding up traffic ahead of me might be resolved, leaving me the sole car standing stock still in the middle of the road.
Suddenly, I caught sight of a flash of blue in the rear view mirror. He thumped the trunk a few times, to alert me to open it.
I opened it, but in my excitement, I almost forgot to put the car in park before fumbling the door open and running down to where he was tossing his suitcase in.
"Did somebody get a little confused about where they were going?" he teased.
There was no time to kiss him; traffic was breaking up. I laughed and ran around to the passenger side and flung myself in, and kissed him then.
"And here I was thinking you were going to use the crosswalk," I told him, buckling up. "I was looking and looking for you there, and never saw you."
"I had to expedite the mission," he explained.
During the first half of his army course, his classmates and he listened and learned. In the second half, they each took turns teaching the class, but no one knew what part they'd be responsible for, so they had to study as if they were going to teach the entire thing.
Keith was the first soldier to receive a spontaneous round of applause after finishing his section.
"I don't even know what I did. I used a lot of big words," he said, turning to me and lifting his eyebrows, his blue eyes twinkling.
So, at the end of the class, when the instructors said that one soldier would give a speech, his classmates all called for him. His seatmate picked his hand up and waved it in the air.
"The bastards," Keith told me, calmly driving toward the airport exit.
"What did you talk about?" I asked, curled up against his arm, and very probably hampering his ability to drive. He seemed to be managing alright, despite the handicap.
"Oh, whatever the last class was about; identifying emotions and thoughts, and how they impact self identity," he said, shrugging.
It's almost unnerving. I think he's learning my language.