Today, like yesterday, Thomas was waiting. He was thousands of kilometres away from yesterday and the similarity of the difference struck him just here. Just now.
Yesterday's wait had been in Darwin Airport and added yet another delayed flight to the hours (days?) of life lost to the whims, vagaries and sometimes pandemonium of departure boards.
He had travelled enough that delays failed to antagonise him like they once had. This time though, his reaction had been so jaded that it almost jolted his 'here we go again' resignation. Almost.
Instead he made the call telling Bec he'd be home by dinnertime and not by lunch. So he couldn't pick Tim up from childcare. And Bec had an afternoon conference call. So she'd ask Sally to collect Tim when she picked up Ava. And Sally would say 'Poor Thomas - so unlucky with flights'. And Bec would think how patronising that sounded but say 'I s'pose so. Thanks Sally… I owe you.' And almost hear Sally say 'again..' as they hung up.
Thomas was a one man operation just two years into a five year plan. Business class travel and executive lounges were not part of his expense budgets. Yet. And hadn't the cynic inside once wonder if delays were just an airline ploy to make the cost of lounge membership seem worthwhile? But this was now. He went looking for somewhere else to have a late breakfast. All the while the departure board pondered who went where and when. He'd been told two hours. Maybe.
Thomas travelled with two compact bags. One he dragged behind him by a handle - its small wheels scurrying quickly as if trying to keep up. The other was over his shoulder and carried his clothing - carefully packed to provide five days of clean variety and utility. Although two carry ons made for quick exits on arrival he ran the occasional risk of being stopped at the gate for having too much.
If a smile didn't get him on board with both items then he would let the clothing be checked in. The equipment in his wheeled bag was too precious. Besides, he had a smile that got him past most frowns and used it in a way that seemed both innocent and familiar. Never cocky. For now, though, the need for that strategy was at least two hours away and Thomas was hungry.
Darwin Airport terminal is not large so it didn't take long to find a place to eat. Although it was crowded he found a table with another single traveller who didn't mind sharing. Some small talk then both settled into the zone that seasoned travellers can find in busy, noisy terminals.
Thomas ordered what would be a very flattened toasted focaccia with teabag green tea and opened his laptop for effect - not really wanting to work. He wanted to be home and away from this hubbub of tourists and raucous, drinking, offshore rig workers...
And now, this morning, he was home - about to surf for the first time in 8 days. Yesterday had ended in bed with Bec. Before that a soft kiss on Tim's wispy blond hair as he slept with dreams he would never remember.
Just thirty minutes ago he slid slowly away from Bec. She was asleep but still mumbled something. 'Yes' he said 'I'll drive you to work'. Which was probably the answer to the question she may have asked.
There were still ninety minutes till then and he could hear the surf through the walls. Plenty of time for a couple of waves. Or more.
So here he was, thousands of kilometres from yesterday waiting for this set to play out. Waiting for the lull when it would be safe to jump. To skim across the white water for just a little. Then belly down and with arms digging deep. Paddling to beat the next waves so determined to wash him back onto the rocks.
No more waiting...