I’m home. In more ways than one. Being gone, away from my family for that long is something I just don’t love. But on the othside of things, I know that part of my path is to move, to be with people I love, to spread health and hold them on their journey. And if that means I have to be away from the kids, then so be it. It makes me a better person to open myself up to others, and in turn, that makes me a better mother.
Mothering my mother wasn’t easy. I tried to think back on how she nursed me as a child while I was sick. There was lot of just letting be, but there were times of tougher love. Like when my fever was so high and my throat so swollen and she insisted that I drink fluids. I’d resist, but she’d insist. Just a drop, a little drop, she’s say. And so I said, just a drop, just a little drop. just a bite, a tiny bite. just a walk, a short walk. It’s uncomfortable to reverse roles and at the same time it’s beautiful, full circle. Giving what I was given is the ultimate gift.
Stay tuned for more talk on berries and all the wonderous things to make with them, living simply and slowly and how this is the hardest thing I’ve had to do, and more adventures on the path to spin fire. Until then, here is a crazy-ass story about my trip.
I’m just not good at flying. Rewind. What I mean to say it I am not good at is being a passenger on a plane.
Although I have been soaring the friendly skies on commercial airlines since I was a baby, it was around the age of fifteen when I realized, I hated it. Taking off over the endless Pacific, from California back to New York by myself, I found myself writing in my journal: We could crash. Oh my god. We could crash right now. Well, what other way to die? Sucked into the hole of the big blue sea? I can almost hear the silence of plane hitting the water now As a matter of fact I am sure I’m going to die. This big piece of tin is sparong through the air. It’s not a bird. It shouldn’t be up here. There were so many things I wanted to do before I dropped into the blueness, the death, my death….
Unless I am using my own wings, I just don’t like it. I do it, it’s a necessary ‘evil’ in my life. But I much rather be on the ground or on a boat. I like feeling time pass as I travel. Not zipping by. I like to see things at a human speed, the trees, the road, the people. I like to enter new timezones with some warning, watching the transition from forest, to plains to desert, to sea. I don’t like the dreaminess of the clouds below me, not knowing what I am above. Bottom line: I want more control. I want to be able to stop off at an exit and hit a greasy dinner for a grilled cheese and a shake and a take a photo of a random sign and know that I am in This Town now. And flying tricks me into a new time, a time that my body rejects.
About a week before take off, the anxiety assaults every part of my life; wake time, dream time, in between time. Before I had kids, I just popped pills and did whiskey shots. It was the one time meditation never worked. Nope. Good old drugs were the only thing that settled me into that seat without clawing the strangers flesh next to me. Once I am drunk, I didn’t care I was 20,000 feet above the earth.
But I can’t very well get trashed with three kids in tow, one of them breastfeeding. So my soultion has been an OCD-esque ritual and visualization.
I get on the plane. Settle the kids. I close my eyes and face my palms up. I watch the plane in my mind’s eye and surround with light, a light that I see coming from the inner most core of the universe, not just any old white light, folks, but The Light. The Light that protects all things from all things, the light that never ceases, never dims, never dies. ANd once the plane is illuminated, bright as the stars, it;s time to call down the winged folk.
Arch-Angel Micheal is the head man at the nose of the plane. He winks at me as he holds on to the front, tells me he has a good grip. He’s muscular and gorgeous and utterly doable. I imagine him to look like the hot one on Lord of The Rings. The blond hot one, not Viggo. His wings are massive and stark white. Then the beautiful goddess angels come on down with their iridescent wings. The head to either side of the plane and hold on to it’s wings, two for each wing. These creatures are otherwordly, curved and ancient, crytal eyes and firey red hair. The look at me and smile; don’t worry M, we have it, we’ll hold her steady for you. And finally the gender neutral being, this creature, wild and huge, my protector with scaley skin and flaxen hair, long nails, and 20 arms, just a wild colorful thing, takes the back end. I’ll never let go, it tells me, precious cargo.
And then take off. And I must say my prayer. If anyone, child or flight attendant, or person who knows me who happens to be on the same flight sitting behind me (this happened once) even tries to talk to me, they get firmly told to just wait, unles they want to die, until I am done with my prayer. My prayer is my own version of a childhood favorite, The Hail Mary:
Hail Mary, full of grace
We are thee
Blessed are those among women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb
Holy Mary Mother of All
Hold us now and forever
Blasphemous I know. But the original version just isn’t for me me anymore with all that sin and death and god talk. I feel okay about switching it around. It’s my ritual, my flight, my fear. My prayer.
Last Wednesday I got on a plane in Bellingham and headed to Mesa, AZ with all three kids. I proceeded to the same thing once everyone was settled in the seat. I had Mia do the visuals with me, made it fun for her, never leading on to why I had angels come down and carry the plane. She just assumed that’s how planes must fly. I’ll leave it to her father to explain engines and such.
And we were off.
Things didn’t feel right.
So I thought maybe it was because I was ready to drop of my two big girls in Arizona with family and leave them, taking the baby to NY with me. I was going to miss them. I don’t like being away from my girls, not even for a whole day let alone a whole week. A week is a very long time. I left them one other time for a week, but they stayed home with their dad. Maybe things felt uneasy because I know I had just begun the journey back to my hometown to be with my mother, scared of how I was going to find her. Two months had past since the last time I had seen her and her body was now three quarters filled with Chemo and perhaps the results would shock me; the hairlessness, the skin and bones, the red checks, the fatigue.
I felt tense, more tense than usual.
A man stood, ruffling through the overhead compartment, A flight attendant stood by with a concerned look on her face. She was glancing at the attendant that sat behind me (we were the very last seat on the plane, in front of the bathroom and the flight attendants seat). The man got what he was searching for in his bag, a small cardboard box, and he sat back down.
Another man got up. He walked to the bathroom (behind me) and on the way he smiled at Z. I smiled back. As he shut the door another man walked up to the bathroom to wait. He stood for a moment. The seat belt light went one. A flight attendant approached him. I felt her stress. Sir, I need you to wait for the bathroom in your seat, the caption has turned on the fasten seat belts. We’ll let you know when the bathroom is unoccupied.
He went back to his seat. The man in the bathroom comes out and sits down in his row, 6-7 seats in front of mine. I can easily see the back of his head, wrapped in religious garb, not sure but I am assuming, a Sikh.
Over the loudspeaker, before anyone could get up to know occupy the vacant toilet: Attention passengers, our lavatories are closed. They are both malfunctioning. We apologize, but nobody is to use the bathroom until further notice.
Mama, I gotta poop. Maaaamaaaa, I gotta poooooop.
Sweetie. Not now. I am concerned. I am intuitive. I feel the stress on this plane. I look around. Everyone else seems fine, happy, dandy.
I am concerned. I am intuitive. I feel the stress on this plane. I look around. Everyone else seems fine, happy, dandy.
I sit and wait. I am hyper aware of what the attendants are doing. Back and forth they travel down the aisle. Hushed phone calls. Whispers. One of them whispers to the man directly next to me across the aisle, a long haired from grunge town. He nods his head. He carries a slight, painted on smile across his face. Minutes pass. She whispers again to him.
Finally. What the fuck is going on? Perhaps I didn’t say the F word, holding Z in my arms, I tend not to swear, but the word rang in my voice. I knew something was up. I knew something felt wrong.
The attendant walks away. The man across from me ensures me all is okay, he is just has to keep an eye out for the bathroom, making sure nobody goes in it.
Oh. For a moment that sounded okay. Made sense. He’s back here next it with me. He can be a guard for the supposed over-flowing shit water.
More whispers. More walking. More hushed phone calls.
No, this is still not right. My whole body tenses. My heart is pounding. Mia is crying that her ears are “puffy”.
We seem to be about 2 or so hours into the flight. Only about a ½ hour to go.
I double check where the girls are, because where I am is not good. My palms are sweating. My throat is lumped. I have this bizarre smile on my face, plastered. In my heart, I know I am going to be okay, feel this deeply, but somewhere in between my heart and my head that feeling is shifted and I am quite sure this is it: we’re going down.
Mia is still complaining about her clogged ears, “puffy, mama! Yawning doesn’t work!” I pass her come. She seems pleased with this. Chew baba, chew the gum and your puffy ears will pop open.”
Sula is happily drawing her spirals on the pad of paper. Over and over again she draws little circular shapes, tiny, intricate. They remind me of the end of a fire dance, the small signatures that I spun just as the fire was going out. Somewhere between sand swirls and Sanskrit. I get lost in her spirals, wondering if these will last time I will see her draw. She looks up at me and smiles. And in her silly little voice reminds me, Mama I gotta go poo. I tell her the bathroom is still broken, but not to worry, soon.
I crank my body all the way around. I demand to know what going on.
The attendants look at each other. They look at me.
And then I hear a whole lot of words like: tipped off, suspicious activity, bomb scares, don’t worry, we stopped them, surprise landing, police, back door, arrests….
I look to the man across from me. Is everything going to be alright, I more beg than ask. Yeah, I hope so. I think it’s just a bad case of profiling. At least I hope it is. I hope. They asked me to watch a man a few rows up, to see what he was doing with his hands, so far he just has them folded on his lap. But he did have some kind of box earlier…
And all I could say was I will never fly again.
And so to make a long story a bit shorter. We did a crazy-ass landing, heading down, and then back up and then straight back down. in silence, no warning, no friendly voice on the speaker telling us we were descending into the hot-ass desert with temperatures hot enough to cook a small baby. The back doors flew open and Police came storming on the plane, five darker skin men were arrested. The rest of the plane spoke in whispers, looking around, not knowing what was happening. We’re sorry about this, but due to unusual circumstances, please stay seated on the aircraft until we inform you it is safe to leave. Five men in cuff walk by me, I try to look in their eyes. If you are all innocent men, I am so sorry, so sorry for this humiliation. If you’re not and you want to hurt me and my kids, I’ll fucking kill you.
Twenty minutes later and 5 condoms, tied and filled with a little liquid were removed from the garbage of the bathroom that was directly behind my seat. Can my daughter go to the bathroom now? Yes, yes. Go ahead. As we squeeze back around them, I see they are wearing the gloves, holding on to the condoms.
As we squeeze back around them, I see they are wearing the gloves, holding on to the condemns.
Not just condoms.
I get it. I think. I’m just never flying again.
Ma’am, please don’t be scared to fly. We are in the business of keeping you safe. It’s our job.
Oh yeah, I get it. I get it. My whole body shaking as I try to get the kids off the plane and walk down the steps onto the runway. The air here is thick with heat, that long ago yet fimilar sensation of stepping into an oven; my breath has to deepen to fill my lungs, my eyes have to squint from the rays. I take on a whole new meaning of sweat.
Wow! It’s hot here, Mama!!! I’m so hot!
In somewhat of a state of shock, we begin our stay in the desert for a few days. The whole time I call the airlines to get information on what happened, what was in the condoms, who the men were. But there was no info to be given. I took upon the Anxious, The Scared, The Stressed. I felt like I was suffering post-trauma stress. I actually thought about renting a car and just driving me and the girls back home, back to my little safety net of a home; bright and yellow and filled with flowers and rivers streaming…and berries, all those berries! The light winds of the valley, the twinkling of sun bouncing of the green leaves and mountainsides, the mountains that surround and protect me…I wanted to go back. How quickly my No Fear and my I Don’t Give A Shit get erased by my utter humanness, my fragility, my need to stay alive.
I had to mine for the amount of trust I needed to continue on, climbing on four more planes until I was to finally be back home. If it wasn’t the thought of my mother waiting for me in her chair back in NY, I’d never stepped onto that plan going East. And if it wasn’t for the love and desire I had to be back with the big girls, I’d never would have stepped foot on that plane going back West. And that final ride, the thought of my home, here, my man…I just took a breath and got on it. My rituals done with more reverence and faith.
And so here is what Allegiant Air finally has to tell me: We couldn’t connect any of the men on the flight to the items found in the trash. As for the items (the condoms) found, we are still researching and getting information on that.
And so my questions are: extreme paranoia and racial profiling? A true threat to our lives? A huge mistake? A lesson for me to trust Fate; when it’s my time to crash, I just might.