The year was 2005. My husband, Judah, and I had been married less than a year and were living in Georgia while he finished his undergrad degree. The plan was to move to New York City, once he graduated, to officially start our life together.
The summer after graduation, Judah and I flew to NYC, stayed with some friends for a week, and secured an apartment in Queens. We would head back to Georgia, pack our belongings into a moving truck, and drive ourselves to our new apartment within the month.
Upon arriving at LaGuardia Airport, we found out our flight back to Georgia was delayed. We found two open seats in what is best described as a long hallway ending in a cul-de-sac. The hallway was lined with chairs and dead-ended into a rounded cul-de-sac that housed two gates, one of which was ours. The cul-de-sac was small and barely had any seating.
We made ourselves comfortable in the chair-lined hallway and waited for further instruction.
While we were waiting, I noticed this young, hip-looking girl with dreadlocks walk past. She was the physical embodiment of “cool” and reminded me that while I may have internal hippie leanings, I never took bold steps to forecast it on the outside. She was bold where I was bland. She was confident where I was cowardly.
An announcement is made. Our plane has landed. It will be deplaned, serviced, and cleaned, and we will board as soon a possible.
Great. We had all the information we needed, so I settled back into patiently waiting.
Judah, on the other hand, needed to go to the gate. Without communication, he stood up and swam upstream against the passengers in the narrow hallway coming off our plane.
In my mind, he either hadn’t heard or hadn’t trusted the announcement and needed to go see for himself. I was slightly annoyed. Why did he need to go to the gate? Why at this exact moment? Why did he not communicate whatever he was doing? Why was he leaving me behind? There was nothing I could do, so I sat with our luggage and waited.
I started to become alarmed.
Did he get on the plane without me? Was he halfway to Georgia and forgot he was married?
It might be worth noting that I had been married before and was still carrying around a good deal of baggage (no airport pun intended). Judah and I were newly married and still working out some kinks.
Once the dust settled from the deplaning passengers, and Judah didn’t reappear, I geared up for a recon mission.
And by “geared up”, I mean emotionally. I left our luggage unattended in the hallway of the airport in New York City.
As I approached the cul-de-sac, I saw the cool girl with dreads. She had snagged one of the elite seats close to the gates. Of course, she did.
Upon further inspection, I saw that Judah was crouched down on his haunches in front of her.
Talking to her.
I read his body language to be saying, “I’m totally into you.”
All of my insecurities came flooding to the surface.
I turned back down the hallway, seeing red. Emotion hijacked my brain.
Run. Get out of here. You never should have gotten married. You should have stayed single the rest of your life. You can’t trust men.
I wanted out. Out of the airport. Out of the marriage. Out of my skin.
I had the thought, “Just go in the bathroom. Go in and don't ever come out. Ever. For the rest of your life. You'll be safe there.” And I was serious.
I forced my body to abort the path to the bathroom and return to our luggage.
I sat down.
My mind and heart were racing. What had I just seen?
Who is she? Why is he talking to her? And what was that body language all about?!
I pulled out my cell phone and called him.
And hung up.
What was I doing? What would I have said when he answered? I wasn’t thinking rationally. I wasn’t thinking at all. I was like a scared animal: all instinct, no thought.
My phone rang. Judah was calling me back.
“Hey, you called?”
“Never mind. Just go back to talking to your girlfriend.”
And I hung up.
The next thing I knew, Judah reappeared from the cul-de-sac.
“Are you okay?”
As my heart rate slowed and my brain began to clear a little, I was so embarrassed.
It turns out he and cool girl went to high school together. When he entered the cul-de-sac to check on the flight, she recognized him and initiated a conversation.
This all seemed plausible.
In hindsight, I wish I could have reacted a million different ways. Perhaps given him the benefit of the doubt.
But I didn’t. I was hurt. My eyes saw what they saw. My heart felt what it felt. I jumped to conclusions and made assumptions.
And you know what happens when you assume.