again · Angela's stories · November

Frequent Flyer

By Angela Gallagher

I TRAVEL a lot with my job. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining, I love to travel. As a kid, if someone had told me I’d be a ‘jet setter’ I’d have been thrilled. Think Elizabeth Taylor in The VIPs with her black-lined eyes and that fur hood. That film made me believe even fog delays could be glamorous. But it hasn’t turned out quite as I expected. Lots of anonymous hotel rooms that could be anywhere. Lots of sitting in airport lounges that are nowhere near as plush as in the movies. I’m sitting in one now – smart and business-like, admittedly, with peanuts and tonic water for the taking, and the opportunity to shower if ever I arrived with time to spare, which I never do. I feel restless today so that not even the free magazines and newspapers can hold my attention, and my ring gets twizzled, round and round, backwards and forwards. It feels a bit tighter today, which is worrying. I can’t afford to put on weight so the peanuts will remain untouched this afternoon. I watch the screens for my gate call.

My husband back in the UK is very good – he understands. He wants what’s best for me and my career. I find a quiet corner as often as I can to speak to him and he’s always there with cuddles and my favourite meal when I get home. It’s that ordinary home life I missed when I first started to travel. No – let’s be honest it was more than that. Our relationship was missing something and through no fault of his really – that’s just how married life evolves, isn’t it? You settle into it and the excitement goes. It’s replaced with something else, something deeper and more connected but I missed that buzz of being newly in love. That’s why I was open to it, I suppose. Open to falling for someone else.

Ironically we got talking in an airport lounge, waiting for the same flight, and we managed to swap seats on the plane so we could carry on talking. We arranged to meet up again when I was next over in the Washington office, and it developed from there. I fell in a big way and the buzz was delicious. I expect a therapist would say now that I’m addicted to the high of being newly in love. He seemed so much more exciting than my husband so I found myself fantasising about a life with him and didn’t want my other life to get in the way of that. So I never told him I was married. Not even when he proposed. I just said yes.

The flight’s delayed. Just by half an hour or so, the screen says. I people-watch to pass the time. This place is full of people used to living out of suitcases: men like that George Clooney character from ‘Up in the Air’, with exactly the right carry-on, perfectly organised for optimum speed through Security, expensed to the hilt for taxis and extras.

Organised. Yes, it takes a bit of organisation. You have to be disciplined and always think three steps ahead. I don’t like lying – I know you’ll laugh at that, but really I don’t. But it’s the only way to keep the whole thing afloat. Christmas and birthdays are the big problems. You can’t be in two places at once. So I have an unofficial birthday in the States. The story I came up with was that my mother died on my real birthday meaning I never celebrate on that day. Together we picked another date, in the spring, when the blossom is out in DC, and I always make sure I arrange a meeting there around then. I have to admit I thought that was a bit of a triumph.

And I like being spoilt twice.

Christmas is trickier. I’ve had to be “snowed in”, “stuck in high-level take-over talks”, and suffering from just the right amount of food poisoning (not able to travel but not life-threatening – so negating the need for a mercy-dash). It’s getting harder but at least I can use each one twice.

Life is tricky but not impossible and there is the excitement that comes with a certain amount of jeopardy. I’m probably addicted to that too.

So why, when I’m just about holding everything in balance, would I put it all at risk – by falling in love again?

It’s crazy I know, but I really do love him.

My flight is called. I put on the wide gold wedding ring and hide away in my hand-luggage – with the narrow white-gold band – the new engagement ring.

© Angela Gallaher 2016

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