As we sit down, I recheck my phone, no messages. I wrote a message to Alice and saved it in my notes. I think about sending it, but it’s a working day. I can’t do that to her, can’t let her start her day like that, I need to give her space, but it’s tearing me up inside. Every situation has gone through my mind. I can see this being it, I can see her breaking up with me. I can see her hating me, I can see her never talking to me again. We fight but we always makeup but I know the fighting needs to stop. I know I need to tell her that I’m not happy, I’m not satisfied with work, I’m not excited about where I am in my life, and I’m probably not happy with myself. I don’t know how to tell her this, I don’t want her to think that this is her fault. Although there are times where I want to blame her, I know I cannot. “James? Are you alright?” Tiia has a very concerned look on her face. The waiter sets our food in front of us, Tiia doesn’t break concentration. “I-I’m fine, just a lot on my mind.” I can feel my heart racing again, “You know you remind me a lot of my husband. Terrible liar, it was all in the eyes.” It’s not the first time I’ve heard that. “Okay. Alice, my girlfriend. Well, Alice and I, we’ve been fighting, a lot. Mostly because I won’t tell her that I don’t want to be a professor. It sounds fickle, but I don’t know how to tell her. I don’t know how to tell her after she stuck by me through everything. Grad-school, unpaid internships, me only being home six weeks a year, just everything. I feel like I’d be letting her down” I haven’t said that to anyone, here I am spilling my guts out to some lady I don’t know. Tiia puts down her fork, the waiter places a cup of coffee in front of her. “Thank you.” She fixes her eyes back onto me “Do you love her?” Lately, I’ve felt like I don’t, or I don’t know how to love. “Is she constantly on your mind?” I take a sip of my water, the phad thai is a little spicy, “She means the world to me. When I think I’ve hurt her, I feel like the worst human being in the world. That’s been me lately. Everything in my life seems so chaotic, and I’ve been taking that out on her.” Tiia reaches across the table and places her hand on top of mine, “My husband was the almost the same and my oldest, Tobias is the exact same way. He was a doctor, a cardiac surgeon. Rory, his partner, was there every step of the way. Gave him the courage to come out, helped him study, made sure to help with the stress of medical school. Tobias is a teacher now, a high school teacher and Rory and him are married.” She lets go of my hand, we both hear the boarding call. I give her a faint smile and go to pay the tab.
One of the best feelings in the world is getting on a trans-Atlantic flight and seeing that the plane is not full. Tiia asks the flight attendant if we’d be able to sit next to one another, she asks us if we’d be okay with First class? As if that’s even a question, complementary Champaign, proper meals, and plenty of leg room. We’re ushered to our seats, and asked if we’d like Champaign. We both nod yes. “So your son is a teacher?”
“Tobias is yes, Jacob, an investment banker, and Elli is a fashion designer in Sweden. But yes Tobias is a history teacher.” With a slight jerk, we begin to move, and I watch the flight safety video. I can’t help but think that if we crash it’ll be in the frigid rough water. Most of us if not all of us will die. At our funerals the chances of there being a body in the casket are slim. I roll my eyes; I can’t believe I’m thinking about this. My least favourite part of flying is the takeoff, I’ve watched too many shows about planes blowing up on the runway. Completely irrational but it could happen. When we’re in the air I look over to Tiia, she has her eyes closed. She must know I’m looking at her, “I don’t like take off. Don’t like it at all.” After a few moments, the seat belt sign is turned off, and Tiia opens her eyes. “So I was telling you about Tobias.” I nod, “Well his dad and I never wanted him to do something he didn’t want. But he got it in his mind that when we got older that it was up to him and him alone to provide for us. Imagine, working so hard for something and thinking every step of the way that you hate it. That it isn’t your dream. That it is the last thing, you want.” I can relate to that, I wanted to provide for my mom and dad, and now that my dad is gone it’s up to me. “One day Rory came home, and Tobias was sitting on the couch all snot and tears.” She mocks his crying face and gives a little laugh. “So they’re sitting on the couch, and Rory told him, looked him right in the eyes and told him that it was going to be okay. That night they came over for dinner, and he told us what had gone on over the last few months. Jacob and Elli were both shocked, as was I and my husband because that wasn’t his job, all we ever wanted was for him to be happy. I know it’s a cliché, but Tobias taking care of himself was all I ever wanted because of he such a kind man, a loving husband, a terrific son, and he’s just got this way about him, makes people gravitate to him.” I’ve taken my phone out of my pocket and spin it around between my index finger and thumb, “So he quit?” Tiia turns to look at me, “No James, he decided that being happy was what he wanted. And you know what, Rory supported him because he loves him.” Alice loves me, I know I question it. “Did Tobias ever think Rory didn’t love him?”