Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Can A Heart Really Break?
I slept most of the way to Atlanta, about 6 hours which is some kind of a record for me; I never really rest in something that moves. Maybe there is a God and he heard my prayers, being unconscious seemed to be the only way I could make it. I felt as if my heart was literally breaking and I wondered how I was going to survive this. Yes, I know it sounds melodramatic, but this situation is pretty much a first for me.
We touched down smoothly and I exited the jet way, into the customs area and patiently waited my turn; no, I have nothing to declare, no, no one gave me anything to carry, etc. After I got through, I stood briefly trying to get my bearings. I had to go to a different terminal to catch the plane to Wichita, but first I needed to make a stop in the restroom.
I looked in the mirror, at a face that didn’t look so very different from the one I wore going to Italy, and yet I felt like a completely different person now. 6,000 miles away, there was a man who was holding my heart hostage, whether he realized it or not. Is this love I wondered? I felt as if I wouldn’t be whole again until I was in his arms, until I felt his heart beating along with mine.
I felt cold and empty inside and very alone.
I splashed some water on my face and ran a brush through my hair and made my way to the other terminal. I wish I had more time before the next flight; if I did, I would buy a phone card and call Adam. I wanted to hear his voice, hear him tell me it would all be okay. That he was missing me as much as I missed him. But by the time I caught the train to the next terminal, my time at Hartsfield International Airport would be about up.
I waited impatiently for the boarding call for my flight. I ran into a business acquaintance while waiting and cursed my luck. His name was Chris and I have never liked this guy at all; he was pushy and never knew when to shut up. He talked incessantly and I parried questions about where I had been; I prayed that God was still listening to me and that our seats on the plane would be far apart.
The boarding call finally sounded and we moved to join the line and I raised my eyes upward and mouthed ‘thank you!’ when I saw that we were 10 rows apart. On the plane I got belted into my seat and leaned my head against the headrest and closed my eyes while I waited for the other passengers to come on board and take their seats. It seemed an eternity before we were taxiing out to the runway and lifting up into the sky.
The seat next to me was empty and I hoped that Chris didn’t notice and want to come up and chat. I decided that if he did, I was going to be rude and tell him to get the hell out of my space. I was close to breaking at this point and just wanted this all to be done with. Cassie was picking me up at Mid Continent airport in Wichita and I could let it all go then. I was waiting very impatiently as we took off and for once, I was excited to be flying home. I needed Cassie right now. I needed her to hug me and make me laugh and tell me she was going to kick my ass if I didn’t snap out of it.
The last half of the flight into Wichita was rough, heavy thunderstorms were blanketing the mid-west. We might have flown around them had there been anywhere to go, so we just went on through them, bouncing amidst the clouds. A couple of times the plane dropped quickly, which made my already queasy stomach feel even worse. For the last few minutes as we were gliding down on the landing approach and the clouds were so thick we couldn’t see anything. We could hear the sound of the landing gear coming down and locking into place and it sounded eerie we floated down amidst the dense grey clouds. We touched down on time though and the pilot told us that he hoped we had umbrellas with us because it was 55 degrees in Wichita and raining the proverbial cats and dogs.
I jumped up as soon as the plane finished its taxi to the gate. Yes, I know, you are supposed to let families and the elderly go first, but I needed off that plane; I needed Cassie.
I practically ran down the long companionway ramp and I saw Cassie waiting down below. She waved at me gaily, but I just ran into her arms and the tears turned on automatically. She held me and gently rocked me for a moment and whispered, “Its okay Sarah, I’m here.”
I dug some tissue out that I had stuck in my pocket in Atlanta and blew my nose, oblivious of the racket it made and the stares it drew. Cassie led me to the baggage claim area and we waited silently for my bags. I was afraid if I started to tell her everything here, I wouldn’t be able to hold it all together. I thought it was best if I just waited until we got to the privacy of the car.
The baggage started to appear on the carousel and luckily mine was some of the first pieces that came by. We grabbed them and headed for the doors leading to the parking areas. When we got there, we stopped short, looking at the deluge out side. The pilot was right, it was raining so hard we were going to be drenched, and there was no way around it. It somehow seemed like a fitting ending to my trip and I humorlessly told myself that at least the rain would wash away the tears.
We stood outside under the awning for a moment, debating whether I should wait here while Cassie ran to the car and pulled it up here, but I didn’t want to wait that long. We were going to get wet, so we might at well get it over with. We both grabbed a bag and took off at a run for the car. It wasn’t too far away, but we were both soaked when we got there and got the bags in. We jumped in ourselves and sat there for a moment, shivering while Cassie started the car and got the heater and defrosters going. She looked at me then and simply said, “Okay, spill it.”
The rain was pounding down heavily on the car, and it made me feel isolated and yet somehow safe. We were wrapped in our own little cocoon. I listened to the sound of the rain for a few minutes, trying to decide where to start and Cassie sat there patiently waiting. I’m not sure I would have been that patient if the circumstances were reversed.
The defrosters had cleared the steamy windows and after casting me a furtive glance, Cassie put the car into gear and slowly started creeping toward the exit booths. There wasn’t much traffic moving right now, so it wasn’t too bad, but I wondered how it was going to be on the street. You couldn’t see very far at all and we would have to go slow. That thought made me miserable because the longer it took to get home, the longer it would be before I could talk to Adam.
Cass paid the attendant and we pulled out onto the road that would access Kellogg, the road that would take us across town to where I lived.
“Cassie, I think that maybe I love him,” I blurted out without any preliminary words.
“WHAT?” Cass shouted. The sound was almost a screech and hurt my ears. “You have got to be kidding me, you know it? Not you, not miss ‘keep the men out of my heart’ Sarah. What the HELL happened over there? Jesus Sarah, you were only gone 10 days!”
“Adam happened,” I told her, as if that explained it all.
“What does that mean?” she asked. She was leaning forward trying to see better and we were doing little more that crawling along the highway. We were on the flyover right now, an elevated roadway that skipped all the lights across town.
“It means I’ve never known a man like him before. He is tender and caring and funny and articulate and,” I trailed off, trying to think of good enough words to describe him and nothing seemed to fit. “He knows all about me and my issues, and he accepts them. He knows and he still wants to make this work. I don’t know how or why Cassie but he does,” I told her, shaking my head at it all.
“Well, he’s got good taste, I’ll say that for him,” she told me, slipping me a sideways grin.
“Okay, so what happened?”
“We met up on Monte Berico. Remember, I’ve shown you pictures of that? The overlook?”
“Yeah. The stone balustrade place, right? You told me all of this on the phone, remember?”
“Yes, I know, I know. Well, I told you all about Venezia right? Did I tell you we made out on the train coming back to Vicenza?”
At her nod, I continued on, trying to get my thoughts in order so it didn’t all sound like some kind of jumble.
“Okay, so the next day we went to his movie set and I watched them film two scenes.”
“Wow, that sounds like fun!”
“It wasn’t really.” I laughed ruefully for a moment, remembering how long and painstaking it was, getting it all right. I told her about that and watched her expression as she listened.
“I guess that blows our fantasies about the glamorous life of movie stars, huh?” she joked.
I told her about meeting Sunni and Rachel and Paul and William and directors and so many other people. “Oh, there was one other girl, Krista. She is a strange little goth girl. You know, all dressed in black and very intense.” I shook my head rather bemusedly as I remembered her. I thought about seeing her again in Firenza and realized there was something about her that I couldn’t quite place, it was almost familiar.
“Sunni sounds like a lot of fun!”
“Yes, I have had these fantasies about seeing the two of you together. I’m sure you could break down the castle walls with no help at all. I nick-named her Whirlwind Sunni,” I laughed. “She is amazing!”
“We decided to spend the rest of my time in Italy together and he planned this wonderful trip for us. Or rather Sunni did actually. Our first day of the trip we went to Pisa and something horrible happened to Adam,” I told her, tearing up again as I remembered how scary it had all been.
“Well, what happened?” she finally asked. I had been thinking about it all again and had been quiet as I relived it.
I told her about it then, how wonderful the visit was until Adam’s accident. I stubbornly refused to think of it any other way. I told her about the trip to the hospital and how the nurses all recognized him, but didn’t make a fuss at all.
“He got excellent treatment,” I told Cassie. “He luckily didn’t have a concussion so they let us go back to the hotel.”
“It sounds as if he was pretty lucky,” she agreed.
“Yes, he had a headache, but really that was all, after some initial dizziness. The next day some Italian policia came to the hotel and asked more questions. They seemed to have the insane idea that it was not an accident!”
“But you and Adam do?”
“Yes, what else could it have been? Who would do something like that?” I questioned thoughtfully.
“Oh, let’s see, some disgruntled fan who didn’t think he smiled nicely enough at them, or some actor who is pissed because he got a better part? Shall I go on?”
“No one knew we were going to be there Cass. No, it WAS an accident,” I stated finally.
“Okay, so what happened after the accident? Did you two finally do the wild thing?” she said to me with a smirk.
That was the kind of look and comment that only a best friend can get away with and I giggled then, wondering how much longer I could push the story before I got to THAT!”
“No, we spent the rest of that day and night in Pisa, then went on to Firenza,” I answered playfully, knowing it wasn’t what she wanted to hear. “I loved riding in the car. It was really cool. Cass, it was a BMW Z4!”
“Hot guy, hot car. This all makes so much sense now,” she said, that sharp facetious edge in her voice, the one she does so well and that I do actually love.
The rain seemed to be getting heavier and it was harder and harder to see if there were cars around us. We were only going about 30 mph and she actually slowed down a bit more when she saw some traffic up ahead. Her hands were gripping the steering wheel tightly and I could see how nerve-wracking this trip was for her.
“Oh Cassie!” I giggled.
“Yeah, I can tell he’s a real fast mover! Unlike this traffic,” she said, turning the defrosters up a bit higher since the windows were starting to steam up again.
“So, we got to Firenza and stayed in this beautiful cottage at the Hotel Dei Fiori Bei.” I told her all about the cottage, how beautiful it was and the view and everything. “We were there for two more days. That time was magical Cassie. I mean, we went to the museums and stuff the last day we were there, but the rest of the time we stayed at the cottage. We talked so much Cass, about who we are and what we want. And we had a horrible fight too. But we made up.”
Cassie looked at me for a moment then. “And?” she prompted me.
“Um, you’re really so very curious Cassie!” I teased wickedly.
“I swear I’m going to pull this damn car over until you start talking. Actually, that might not be a bad idea anyway. I can’t see shit here,” she said, peering harder out the front windshield. “Sarah, you didn’t come home in tears because you had a peachy keen time. What the hell happened to you?” she stated. Her voice was exasperated and I knew I had better stop toying with her.
“Well?” she demanded. “I’m beginning to think this is serious,” she told me. “Not just you, but this damn weather,” she said as she started to slow down even more since a car had pulled right in front of us and slowed down. She had to hit the brakes hard to avoid hitting it and the car fish-tailed a little bit on the rain slicked street before straightening up.
That’s when we heard a sickening screech behind us and an air horn blowing loudly. A moment later a semi truck rammed into the back of the car, apparently unable to slow down so suddenly. We heard a horrifyingly loud crashing and ripping sound then, and we were spinning around end to end. Then there was a sickening drop as we rolled over the embankment.
I remember the seat belt grabbing my shoulder tightly and the air bag exploding in my face and then my body twisting sideways against the side of the car as we tumbled down the embankment. I remember my head hitting the support of the car where it divided the car between the windows and the pain of the airbag crashing into my face.
I thought of Adam for a moment, waiting for my call. It’s the last thing I remembered for a long while.