Probably the first thing that I would ever tell you, if you were patient enough to ask me about this particular subject, is just how nervous I was at the time. I didn’t have much in the way of baggage - hygiene items, a few changes of clothes, and so forth - along with my case of movies that I’d hoped would be well received, so I had no qualms about losing anything. I had already bidden my family farewell for the week, all my ducks were quite in a row… but this would mark my first ride on an airplane, and my slight fear of heights was roaring in fifth gear.

By the time I’d gotten through security, that worry had passed and been replaced by a full beard. At least, that is how it felt to me. I swore that a retarded monkey could have done their jobs more efficiently, but as I had no means to put this theory to the test, I had no choice but to swallow my irritation and wait to be herded into seat 24A. Thankfully, the woman sitting next to me possessed none of the qualities that would have given me a difficult time of the trip. She wasn’t so beautiful that my eyes or mouth would get me into trouble, wasn’t so mind-scrambling ugly that I would have to take pains to look away. She smelled pleasant, and spent as much of the flight sleeping as awake. Unfortunately, her silence allowed my mind to drift back to the source of my earlier nervousness. Questions bit at my resolve and my fighting spirit, but I knew that I had come to far to falter… I had paid an ungodly price for the plane ticket, after all, and been molested by that insufferable jag off back at the security station, in addition to having battled every demon and leapt every hurdle between heaven, hell, and California to get where I was, and I would sooner be gimped than turn back.

And so I spent the day with my eyes glued to a book, written by one of the no-name authors who I much preferred to any Stephen King or Anne McCaffrey. I tried not to think about what I would say or do when I arrived, but… damn it, it was tough. I had been thinking about this day for nearly two years, come so close to giving up on so many occasions… it moved me to tears to think that it had all been worth it. I hid them well, as I always had, for it isn‘t the place of a grown man to cry when people are looking.

The hours melted into one another, and I managed to keep myself amused between the book and launching into one of my brilliant diatribes against some particular function of society that, as of this writing, I can’t remember at all. By the end of the flight I was more than ready to go somewhere that my legs could stretch a bit, even if hanging around a terminal wasn’t exactly my idea of a good time. I, along with all the other mutants aboard the plane, was herded down the neat little stairs-on-wheels thing and into the bustling hub of my second-ever airport terminal. I took a deep breath and moved inside, fighting my fears, grappling with the urge to turn and run back the way I came. I had never really been away from home, after all, and… a lot rode upon this journey. My whole life, you could say.

I discovered that my baggage had not been misplaced, abused, or stolen, which meant that I wouldn’t have to trot down to the lost baggage department and play my figurative violin. I gathered my things and headed for the waiting area, muscles tightening in anticipation. I prayed, though I wasn’t really aware of it at the time, for a dozen things that I couldn’t bring myself to voice… primarily, I think, to say ‘thanks’ for finally getting a chance to do what needed to be done. There were people all around me, but I scarcely noticed them at all after the first few moments. They weren’t my concern. Neither was the hotel bill, or the fact that I knew nothing about where I was going.

I plodded along with bags in hand, looking around. I feared that I had gotten the date wrong, or had gotten on the wrong plane, or something equally ridiculous, but almost all of my fears were put to rest in a single instant. When… I saw her. I walked as slowly as I could bring myself to walk, just scarcely short of a jog, and I could read the nervousness in her eyes when she saw me as well. A brown skirt inlaid with bronze, with a brown shirt, and funky red shoes that looked far more classy than I have the words to describe, adorned the fit figure of a person whom I had only known through a few scant pictures and my own personal fantasy. She… didn’t look exactly as I had envisioned. I think I was expecting her to be a bit taller, really, but she possessed something that I just can’t apply words to… the kind of beauty that never really finds an apt title. Aesthetics, maybe.

We stood a few feet apart, just… looking at one another, nervous apprehension shining in both of our faces. I could have passed out from sheer anxiety, but I knew exactly what to do. She had told me, after all, so when I stepped forward and embraced her, I knew that every last demon slain had been worth the fight, every obstacle shattered deserving of the effort, and every lonely night well spent.

“You were right,” I whispered to her, not trusting my voice to be free of tears that cascaded upon my heart, “we were worth the wait, Emily…”