Friday, July 31, 2009

First Real Exposure.

I had just settled into my seat on American Airlines flight 2009. It was a full flight. Half of which were vacationers clearly delighted for their well needed escapes from Manhattan - all clad in bright floral shirts and khakis. The other half were native Lucians. My first real exposure.
I was seated next to a young girl (maybe 13?) and her brother (probably 8?) both headed back home. Exhausted from a night of packing and preparation. Exhausted from a far too early arrival at the airport...I finally fall into a deep the plane takes off.
I'm just going to ignore that - clearly they know I'm sleeping.
"Excuse me." *Tap*Tap*Tap*
Eye lids slowly separate. Body too weary for anything else to move.
"Um, can I borrow your phone?"
"Huh?" Mind more foggy than I thought, clearly.
"Can I borrow your phone?"
"Umm...for what?" Hmm...maybe there is a game on there that they want to play - or maybe they need to use a calculator on it?
"Wanted to use it."
"It doesn't work up here"
Shocked. "WHAT? Your phone doesn't work up here?!?"
"Um, no. There is no reception." Okay, she looks too confused by this. Maybe I heard her wrong. "Wait, do you need my HEAD phones?"
"No. Your phone! For a call."
I'm completely shocked and quite awake at this point. "No. It doesn't work up here."
"Oh, ok. Thanks!"

I close my eyes and turn my body away from them and towards the aisle as a small smile plays on my face at the total absurdity of the whole situation. And, once again, I begin to doze off.

Oh God, PLEASE no!
*Tap*Tap*Tap* "Excuse me."

Again, eyes slowly separate.

"Ya?" I'm so groggy.
"Can I borrow a pen?"

Slowly I realize that immigration papers are in her hand and she wants desperately to fill them out. Why this needs to be done 20 minutes into our 4 hour flight is beyond me so I grab my purse, hand her a pen, turn my body again, and close my eyes.

"Um..." ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!? " do I fill this out?"

I help.
Then I turn to her. "Listen, I'm going to sleep now, OK?" I look her straight in the eyes and make sure she understands. She does. "Just put my pen in this pocket," I say, making sure that all bases are covered so that there is no ambiguity left which will require my immediate attention.

But, alas, I am too awake at this point to even dream of sleeping. And quite honestly, I am beyond amused by the interactions that have transpired. I give in and begin filling out my own immigration papers only to be interrupted periodically by, "Do you have change for a $20?" "How much are chips?" "Do I need to pay for drinks?"
At one point she peeks her head far into my seat, looks at my passport photo and remarks, "Hey, you look pretty there!"
Immediately I am reminded of my friend Shari's interaction with a number of young Israeli girls in a movie theatre in Haifa a few years back when they had annoyed and aggravated us beyond all reason and when we finally came to confront them, one of them looked at her and said, "HEY! You're pretty!", at which point her heart melted and she sat back in her chair enjoying the compliment. And at this moment I understood what that must have been like for her.

Although, at this point, my little friend has won. Whatever the battle is, she won. Because if I know anything it's that the cardinal rule of a teachable moment is consistency and follow through. And the mere fact that I made it CLEAR that I was going to sleep and am now up answering her barrage of questions means - she.has.won.

Meanwhile, a little 3 year old cries incessantly behind us as she turns to look at him. Ever so clearly annoyed.

Go figure.
In the silent room only photos surround you. Each picture holds a memory - burned in your heart - saved in your soul. But the photos are busy; they each tell a story and in that room, the photos are talking - each wishing their voice to be heard. The calm and serenity you long for can not be found in the faces on that page or the colors - screaming at you.
The peace comes when you close your eyes. When your soul speaks - softly and melodiously - of the people who have touched your heart. It is their light that gives the necessary calm you long for. It is all captured right there in your soul.

The night is filled with warm steam; soft rain snow that clings to the light making puddles on the ground. My thoughts move in rhythm with the shoes crunching hard gravel. No more smiling, no more tears. Just beautiful, simple walking. Steam rising from my mouth like unbidden thoughts, floating in front of my eyes like long repressed memories.
A child clinging to her mothers hand.
A father asleep on the couch, his book rising up and down on his chest.
Furtive glances in the mirror before the dance.
Where am I hidden in my eyes?
Soft humming and a finger twisted in my curls.
Drunken voices echoing around me, reminding me of my unbelievable sobriety.