And her parents told her that should things not work out, should they need to come back and ground themselves again, they could stay with them. It was the same consideration they gave Theresa a decade prior when they left her in her cramped dorm room. If you feel like coming home, don't be ashamed, the door is always open. She had taken them up on that offer over just a semester then, would she now? With a husband and almost four year old boy in tow? She wasn't sure. She did know that three planes separated her from the cold place they had decided to live. Her son was hanging close to her parents, and she was glad of that. It would be hard on everyone, this distance. 4,000 miles. Two weeks by car. Three planes away. A continent dividing them. A massive country in between.
But they went through security their parents looked on as far as they could (fuck the terrorists for making it so that they couldn't say goodbye up until they boarded), and everyone cried a little and Ben, Theresa, and Alex took their shoes off they waved and waved and waved. Alex thought it was so silly that they had to take their shoes off, and his parents agreed on many levels.
Since it was his first flight, Alex was a bit nervous, but not too nervous. He was just three, no time yet for neuroses. Theresa was nervous. She hated flying and had only done it once before, on a trip to Alaska five years prior. She had dug her fingernails into Ben's arm and chanted The Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary from Cincinnati to Minneapolis. Alex seemed just fine save a brief ear popping moment, and Theresa gave him some candy to chew and some juice to drink and his pain subsided. He pretended to be flying the plane by pressing the air conditioning buttons, and they watched Star Wars on the little DVD player they had bought for the trip. Ben was the strong one as usual and Theresa felt like a cat in a carrying case on its way to a vet appointment. She started to mention this to Ben but realized to express that feeling might mean scaring Alex, and also they had given their old cat to a friend just prior to vacating their house (which was on the market, no one had bought it yet) and kissing it goodbye. Better not talk about cats just yet. Too many sad conversations and wounds were fresh.
They survived the first two flights (with Alex now flying like a champ, there was one of Theresa's life goals for parenting checked off - get him flying young so he wouldn't develop a phobia like she had), and were waiting in the Seattle airport terminal for their last connecting flight to Anchorage when a man in his twenties walking near them jerked as if pulled upwards with a wire, like a marionette, and then flopped to the ground and began to shake. Theresa recognized it as a seizure and got up to get the ticket agent but several other passengers had beaten her to it. She busied herself by gesturing to Ben to "look over there" and sat strategically to shield the escalating action from Alex's view. Alex was tired and starting to get cranky. He had slept on the flight from Denver to Seattle and was starting to whine and she wanted him as comfortable and calm as possible. A man who appeared to be rabid and throwing himself up and down on the cold hard tile of the terminal would probably scare him, it scared Theresa, so she engaged him in a little conversation about familiar things.
Luckily the paramedics arrived quickly, and the crowd was dispersing (three or four passengers plus a ticket agent were kneeling by the epileptic man prior to the paramedics' arrival). Ben had gone to get some drinks for them since their wait was over an hour and had taken Alex with him. Theresa started to get the shakes in her legs, which happened every time she stayed up too late. When she would go to slumber parties as a girl, at around 2 am her legs would start to involuntarily quake and her teeth would chatter, subsiding immediately upon her falling asleep. She felt oddly embarrassed that it was happening now in the aftermath of witnessing a seizure, almost feeling like her legs were trying to lessen the acuteness of the man's episode or condition.