Robb and I did not travel together often. Many times, sure - visiting out-of-state family, trips to Disney World, getaways of our own - but he traveled nearly every week on a business trip. This was travel of his own. Robb practiced efficiency as a hobby, and he had this routine down to a science.
"Check in the night before. Print off your boarding pass. Get to the airport at least two hours in advance; it's always better to have extra time than to be scrambling. All your liquids must be in one small ZipLoc bag - not the gallon size. They'll yell at you for the gallon size bag. Just the small ZipLoc. That's the rule. Have your boarding pass and your driver's license at the ready at all times. It makes the process faster, Tricia. It really does."
When I traveled alongside him, either to keep him company on a business trip (during our more carefree years) or when we escaped for a trip of our own, I always felt so inefficient and clumsy next to this man who had every step measured.
I never had my driver's license at the ready; it was always tucked away.
There was typically a wayward lip gloss that didn't make it into my small ZipLoc, and my carelessness added precious moments to the process. Oh, geez. Yes, by all means, search my bag. It's Revlon: "Shine City."
I was always busy chatting with the airport employees, who, quite frankly, seemed to appreciate my congeniality. One complimented me on my pink coat; another said I had a nice voice. (I wasn't sure what to do with that compliment.) Robb preferred to keep his head down and avoid eye contact. Socializing inhibits efficiency.
(This is one of the reasons God gave me to him: to brighten his days and help him meet people.)
Robb was patient with me. He even made sure I had a mocha to take on the plane. (Although the traveling-alone businessman saw no need for such frivolity. He splurged to make me smile; I always forever his greatest weakness.)
When I traveled alone a handful of times - for a career fair or a girls' getaway - he quizzed me as we drove to the airport.
"Tricia, I checked you in online last night. So which counter should you go to?"
"The one for people like me, whose husbands have checked them in, and who have just one great big fat suitcase to check."
"One big suitcase? How big, Tricia?"
"Less than 50 pounds, Robb. I promise."
"And did you pack all your liquids into one ZipLoc?"
"Lip gloss too?"
"You used the small bag, right?"
"Oh, um, oops. Nope. I used the gallon sized."
"Tricia! You can't use the big one! They'll yell at you! Tricia, I tried to help you. They're going to yell at you."
"Just kidding. I put it in the small bag."
He always loved my little jokes. Or I liked to think he did. I made him like them, with a constant barrage of them. Especially those which emphasized brevity, clarifying that I did in fact listen even if I didn't in fact take notes.
I'm traveling today, visiting my soul sister in Arkansas.
I ventured the entire path on my own, from check-in to departure. And the airport was crowded with memories of him, even though we rarely traveled together. His words filled my mind, waited around every corner.
I got here with plenty of time to spare.
All my liquids were in a small ZipLoc bag. Even the lip gloss.
I remembered to wear slip-on shoes for easy accessibility during the security process. (I would have lost a few bonus points for choosing shiny black heels as my traveling shoes. Sure, impractical. And I paid for it, as my raw toes are now wrapped in band aids. I'll give him that. Sassy class comes with a price, sometimes.) :)
I knew he would have been annoyed when it was time to slip off these said shiny shoes, to then realize I had no socks to wear on the airport floor. Oh, right. Yuck-o. He was right about that one. Note to self: sanitize feet. (That would have seriously creeped him out.)
I made it to my gate on time. I was even careful to find Gate B84 before I made my stop at Starbucks. Priorities: check.
I sat in the aisle seat, in honor of him: he loved a seat on the aisle. And I said hello to the person beside me, even if he wouldn't have. Because that's what I have always done.
I made it. I conquered the airport scene.
Thanks for the tips, babe. They were very, very helpful.