Sarah Rosemary at Sunny Side Up and I are hosting our own Reverb11, a series of prompts to look back on 2011 and manifest the new year. Please check our Reverb11 pages for details, and join in!
Prompt for December 8, 2011: Safe: Where did you feel safest this year? Describe the person, place or thing that made you feel safe in 2011.
This has been a dangerous year. How does one find safety in treachery?
It used to be so much easier, but maybe I’ve gotten old. Or complacent with staying one step ahead of danger. So I run. And find safety in the place that most people merely pass through: airports.
I arrive early; I fast-track; I sit and I watch the other travellers. I enjoy. I know I am going places. I know I am worthy of the places I have been and the places to which I am headed. The passport in my bag is well-stamped; it bears the proper name now. My name — the name of the family to which I returned. My father’s name — the name he chose, not the one with which he was born.
We all make choices, and they define us.
I once made a choice to take another name. This is a dead horse I’ve beaten; pummeled; pulped. I flew to California six years and three months ago to marry the man I divorced a year and seven days ago today. I travelled under his name until this past September — hadn’t bothered to change my passport — and when I travelled I wore my wedding band. It’s a trick, you see. It keeps the creeps away; helps protect from danger.
The only time I didn’t wear my diamonds on travel was when I went to London in May. I was seeing my father whose name I took back; the father who asked me in the narthex of the Cathedral that September day, six years earlier, if I was sure. If I was ready.
And that trip in May was when I eeny-meeny-miny-mo chose between London and Edinburgh I wondered if it was fortune cookies or fate or simply dumb luck that I hadn’t worn my wedding band. In any event, that was a dangerous choice — the not wearing the band and the chosing to get on a train. What cautious, romantic daughter leaves her parents in Scotland to spend the weekend with a stranger?
This girl. The girl the stranger laughed gently at and once called Danger Mouse.
I left London on the bank holiday Monday and went back to Heathrow; went back to Manhattan — I was safest in the airport. I went away from the danger of choosing. Far from wedding bands, and golf dates, and fast cars, and men who change their minds. The British Airways lounges on either end sucked far less than any of the decisions I could, and would make.
They say that if you have a treatment for illness that changes your tastes, you shouldn’t eat foods you love while you’re going through it. That way your foolish brain doesn’t associate the bad feeling with the good taste. For instance, it takes a lot of effort not to associate my beloved tomatoes with the awful nausea that comes with the biweekly injections of immunosuppressant to try and save my hands.
In that sense, when making a dangerous choice, I am glad that I took a train out of Edinburgh.
But what I love about airports is that I am protected, because I cannot go forward until the right time; and I cannot go back because I’d be defeating the purpose of being there in the first place. When I travel to places I do not want to visit, at least I have my time in the airport to steel myself before having to face the world. And when I am in the places I most want to be, I can make every second of arrival count; I can delay gratification and I can enjoy each moment of a homecoming or meeting a car or a friend or a new and glamourous place.
We all make choices. And I choose to be safest between security and passport control.