I’m Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

By Paul Pasulka

“I’m leavin’ on a jet plane - I don't know when I'll be back again.”

My son, Adam, my wife, and I are at the airport. A group of high school students is sitting in a circle a few yards away singing.

Adam is 17. He is a shy child - young man. But people warm to him. He has a very close group of friends at home. Years later, as a lay minister, he will officiate several of their weddings. But now he is leaving them, and us. He is waiting to board a plane to spend the school year in Spain. As has been his manner since early childhood birthday parties, he initially sits with us, observing the activity in front of him.

My wife asks, “Adam, are you sure you want do this?”

“If I don’t go now, when will I?” he responds.

I think, “Do you know what you’re doing?” He does. He is intelligent and sensitive. And he was there too.

The day before his initial departure date - a week earlier - I had gotten turned around looking for our hotel. I stop at the information desk of a large office complex. The clerk, obviously foreign-born, directs me toward the north exit. I turn in that direction. A young maintenence engineer stops me. “You want the Financial District, right?” I do. “He don’t know nothing; that’s why he’s at the information desk. C’mon, I’ll show you.”

We walk and talk -  he’s a Yankee fan, but his real passion is hating the Red Sox. He lives in Queens - not as expensive there. Tomorrow is his daughter’s ninth birthday. They’ll celebrate when he gets off work. We shake hands and part at the exit.