On Tuesday, September 17th, I waited at the San Francisco International Airport, outside International Arrivals Gate G, for my husband to arrive from his flight from Mexico.
I took it as a good sign. Gate G, for Giselle.
There was a T.V. screen monitor where you could see who was coming down the hall before they appeared at the gate’s exit. I tried to watch and not watch at the same time.
I must have looked away from the screen at one point, because suddenly Picasso appeared at the exit of Gate G.
We hugged, I cried and then we walked to the BART to take the train back to Oakland.
We checked into a hotel that I reserved for a night, to give us a moment before we entered regular life.
And I proceeded to throw up for the next 12 hours. Literally. I could not stop. Running to the bathroom when there was nothing to throw up anymore.
I kept saying it was the food we ate. Although Picasso was fine.
When my husband finally met Mr. Vulcan and Heather Wilhelmina the next day, Mr. Vulcan gently pointed out that it was almost definitely my emotions and not the food. We laughed at the fact that I refused to face the obvious up until that point.
Since September 17th, my body and soul have settled down into this next phase of our life.
Since September 17th, I’ve watched what lights my husband up about being back in the States, what makes him laugh about being back in the States, what makes him mad about being back in the States.
Since September 17th, I woke up one morning to see my husband next to me, completely wrapped up in my fleece Hello Kitty blanket, snoring softly.
Since September 17th, there are times when I walk into rooms and I see my husband there. For a minute, my brain seriously fritzes and I think, “Am I in Oakland or Mexico?” After a minute, I realize that I’m in Oakland. That we’re in Oakland.
Since September 17th, my husband and I have been quietly living life offline, transitioning into what’s our new normal.
When Picasso was deported in April of 2001, I started to save any and all papers about his deportation in a lemon yellow folder. The initial notes from when he was first deported are on them. It traveled with me from Chicago, Illinois to Skokie, Illinois, to Mexico, to San Francisco and then Oakland, California.
Since September 17th, that lemon yellow folder, that lemon yellow folder that I’ve carried for the past twelve and half years, in my hands, in my mind’s eye, in my breath, that lemon yellow folder has now been moved to a cardboard box that sits on a shelf in a closet.
And now it’s your turn. That’s one of my deepest desires.
For today and the days to come to be your turn to move your version of the lemon yellow folder to a cardboard box that sits on a shelf in a closet.