It is just me in my apartment right now, and really, unless you can find me some really good company, that is how I prefer it. I took up this habit of doing all the impolite things I was brought up not to do when no one was looking, talking in ridiculous voices, using poor diction and grammar, chewing with my mouth open, peeing with the door open, swigging big gulps out water out of a recycled Perrier bottle (this is akin to drinking wine straight out of the bottle for a culturally Mormon girl) etc etc. I didn’t want all of life to go by without having done the “bad” things.
I don’t want it to be always just me, as fun as it is. I was actually hopping someone would come along to love all of it, both the girl who wants to dress up black tie and and gracefully make her way through a gala art opening and the girl who wants to settle into the couch with legs wide open eating Cheetos with my mouth open. Is that too much of a roller coaster? Do I have to choose to be only one thing?
I wonder where all the people are that don’t make me feel like it is just me. Maybe all the starbellied sneeches that were starbellied and sneechy like me, were shot. But really, I think what it is, I spend too much time with just me, and maybe it is hard to recognize their stars now, and maybe I am really shy and when I see a glimmer of one I don’t know what to say and maybe all of us feel like this and we make it be “just me” because we are scared.
Well, Imma gonna gather up some courage and send out stronger signals and maybe I will find the ones that also like roller coasters.
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
I do not have any words really. I want to say everything and yet hold a long silence. I want to breathe a sigh of relief but when I try, worry for many other things come out with it. My emotions have been up and down all week. So here I am, not holding the right words and with a heavy need in my arms to hug my loved ones close, to make sure we take some time to look at each other’s faces and then wake up again tomorrow trying to move through and deal with this world again together.
This is what Patton Oswalt had to say about the tragedy in Boston - very well written:
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”
But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”