I started running, all over the apron of the airplane, for fear that they would catch me. But who could chase me? The pilot would never leave the plane. The stewardesses wore high-heeled shoes. But I didn’t look back; I ran. I ran, knowing that only by mixing with the crowd in the main airport waiting room would I dissolve in the eyes of those who could take me back.
As soon as I entered, I saw a seat of those positioned in a row so as not to make people stretch their legs at night. I sat there. The crowd was beginning to diminish. Some planes had already departed. Others were on the runway with passengers on board, like the one I was supposed to leave with.
Mentally and emotionally, I was exhausted. I did something I never imagined I would do. I had never seen myself so out of the ordinary. I don’t know how many passengers the plane had, but only I jumped off.
And now, what would I do?
Take a flight to New York?
I went to the ticket office, and they answered me unwillingly; if my plane could not go to New York, how could another local plane go there?
Rent a car?
At the rental desks, they told me:
“The cars are all rented. You should wait at least a week before the situation normalizes.”
I went to seek advice from those who smoked, but they were all gone. I returned to the airport, but by now, it was late, and I thought I would sleep there waiting to find a solution.
As I sat with no idea what to do, it was starting to dark. I looked at the map of Canada and observed that I was in the very worst place at the worst time to travel to any destination. I was on an island with no flights, so I had to take a ferry to get to the mainland. The two ports where the ferries departed were more than 300 kilometers south. The railroad was non-existent, and the rental cars had run out. Taxis weren’t available for a four-hour ride, and I didn’t even dare ask the price.
At the suggestion of the information office, I found a notice board with bus timetables for St. John’s, the largest city on the island, four hours by bus, from there I could take another bus for two hours to Argentia, where the ferries departed. Towards North Sydney, the mainland in Nova Scotia.
There was also a larger airport at St. John’s where daily flights departed to various destinations. The bus left at five in the afternoon every day, so I would have to wait until the next day. I would have slept at the airport if it weren’t for they would close at ten in the evening.
All that remained was to go back to Reagan and ask her if I could sleep one more night with her. I would not have had the courage to return, but after jumping out of that airliner and about to leave, I felt like I had lost all my self-esteem. To think that Reagan was annoyed or told me no would change little. I had nothing to lose.
I left Italy as a person to whom almost nothing could be said except that I did not want to work, but that was another matter. At that moment, I found myself alone in a remote place, having to ask for help from a girl I recently knew, unemployed and with a couple of secrets that who knows what they were hiding. Returning to her was the only solution I had, but I realized that I didn’t even have her phone number and only knew her last name.
As much as I thought I would never see her again, not even her phone or email I had asked, she had not asked me either, and this told me even more how important I was to her. I didn’t even have the address. I could find the house by walking there, but I wasn’t so sure, I could get lost at night. But I had no alternative. From what I could imagine, it must have been about five kilometres, an hour of walking. Finding the right path wasn’t easy.
I had a map of Gander from the tourist brochure from the information office. But I did not know the name of the street. I only remembered the places I had seen while driving and, of course, her house, but it was night, and all the houses in Gander were small villas with only the ground floor or mezzanine floor almost all the same.
First, I decided to go and eat at McDonald’s near Walmart; it was easy to get there. James Boulevard, right at the intersection with Garrett drive and left at Roe Avenue, passed in front of the restaurant where we had lunch on the first day. Rosie’s continued to Scotiabank. From there, McDonald’s was easy to find, and everything was fine.
While I ate, I looked at the map and tried to plan the route. I remembered that from Walmart, we took the extra-urban road I identified on the map as Cooper boulevard, then turned right into a street leading to the elementary school. There was the area where she lived. I would find the house by walking around a bit when I got there. When I got there, I was tired. I walked to McDonald’s for over half an hour and another 45 minutes to get to the elementary school area. There I had to walk around the houses for a while. The streets were all similar too.
All well ordered so as not to leave something strange to be remembered. But some houses had campers or caravans parked in their garden, and I remembered those well. I found a caravan which was placed well was an Airstream, the shiny aluminum ones famous because the inventor had taken the idea from aeroplane fuselages. The trailer was on the same street, so I finally found the house after two hours of walking.
I waited a moment before approaching. I looked to see if the white Toyota Corolla was parked to see if she was home and whether the lights were on. I sat down on the sidewalk, stopped to catch my breath, and found the courage to introduce myself again there. I did not have good feelings. I felt like an aimless wanderer who would knock on a stranger. I only knew how to identify myself in this way. The wanderer, for me, has always been a positive figure, but now that I was in the role of a wanderer, I felt without identity.
I stopped thinking, got up and headed for Reagan’s house. When I got to the door, I knocked, and nobody opened it.
I thought: Of course, she won’t answer the door at this hour. Adding to that, I didn’t know anyone else here in Gander.
I knocked again, and this time she opened it immediately, as if she was already behind the door. She looked at me with wide eyes. I expected her to say:
“You again? What do you want?”
Instead, she said nothing to me. She hugged me tightly, and she put her head on my chest, and she told me:
“I missed you!”
A tear ran down her cheek, and she wiped it away immediately so as not to be seen. I had gone from a wanderer to finding myself a home where I was wanted. We hugged for a while, and then she said to me:
“Come on, come in!” And she closed the door.
For three days, she had said nothing to me, not even a signal, a behavior that could make me understand that she enjoyed my company. I was gone for ten hours, and everything had changed. What logic could it have? Was being away ten hours knowing I would never come back, worth ten years of absence? One thing for Einstein to study on the relativity of time!
In any case, both with Einstein and with her, I did not understand anything, and I was tired of imagining if I wanted to stay there and try to understand the logic, much less explain to me what had happened.
I would have told her the next day, and I was ready to do it. But was she expecting an explanation? I didn’t think so, at least at that moment. It felt like I came back for her.
This new situation made me feel better. Her embrace was consoling. I couldn’t ask for more at the time. The next day I would have explained everything to her if she wanted it, but at that moment, I took the positive things that the situation gave me, and I tried not to overthink what had happened during the day.
After an hour that I had arrived, I asked her if I could go to sleep in my pajamas or, instead, if her tracksuit that I used as pajamas was still where I had left it. I went to the bathroom, and my toothbrush was still there, as if she knew I had to back. We lay down on the bed under the covers without saying anything, hugging each other in the same direction. I could feel her warm warmth, but I couldn’t help thinking about what had happened to me that day and what I would tell her the next day and how I would continue my journey.
Sleeping in that bed and embracing her was regenerating for me and was just what I needed. We slept all night without ever waking up.