20. ringing in the new year with a bang. or not.

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"Take care, honey," my mother said as she gave me a tight squeeze while we stood on the curb at the airport

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"Take care, honey," my mother said as she gave me a tight squeeze while we stood on the curb at the airport.

I could tell that she was fighting back tears. I was, too. Saying goodbye was always hard. I wished that we lived closer together, but we probably never would. My hometown was small to the point where it induced claustrophobia for me. It had been a nice, safe place to grow up— I just couldn't live there as an adult.

"I will, mom. And don't worry, we can plan the wedding together over the phone and by text. I'll create a shared Pinterest board for us, even," I told her. I would probably have to explain the concept of Pinterest to her first, but in the end it would work. "We have almost a year, still, so we have lots of time."

My suspicions had been spot-on: my mom was getting married. Mexico in November. Of course, I was the maid of honor. I was happy for her, even if it would take some time to wrap my mind around the whole thing. Somehow, even thought my family was technically getting bigger, it made me feel a little more alone.

Wheeling my suitcase behind me, I navigated the departures area until I found my airline's check-in counter. Dread filled me as my nerves started to kick in. I didn't have a full-on flying phobia, but I wasn't exactly a fan. It was exacerbated by the fact that I flew infrequently enough to psych myself up about it all over again every single time.

After I cleared security, I switched my phone back on and a backlog of texts came through. I found a spot in the departures area and settled in to answer them; it was a good distraction from the looming flight.

Text Message, 4:04pm
Ethan: Make it back okay?
Ryan: Not yet. Just waiting to board
Ethan: Gotcha. Well, have a safe flight. Not sure I'll make the party tonight just FYI.
Ryan: No? Too bad. I'm told the jell-o shooters will be second to none.
Ethan: Well, I'll try.
Ryan: Good. If not, see ya tomorrow.

Text Message, 4:38pm
Hunter: Coming to the party at hockey house tonight?
Ryan: I am. You?
Hunter: I don't think Luca would let me miss it. See you there.

Weird. I didn't know that Luca and Hunter were so tight. And I wasn't sure how I felt about seeing Hunter. I couldn't lie, it was flattering to receive so much attention from someone as good looking as him, but beyond that I still hadn't made my mind up about how I felt.

Reluctantly, I boarded the plane. There was some turbulence on the ascent that set me on edge, but noise-canceling headphones and a heavy dose of Netflix helped me out. And by helped me out, I mean enabled me to grip the seat rest with white knuckles the entire time rather than screaming my head off.

As we taxied to the gate, my claustrophobia hit its breaking point and impatience surged through me. Let me off, let me off, let me off.

"It is now okay to turn on your electronic devices and take them out of airplane mode."

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