Saturday, September 12, 2009

journey to a new land

Somehow it seemed fitting that I would enter the next chapter of my life at 5 in the morning puking out of David's car onto the sidewalk in San Francisco. An old pro, I managed to miss the interior and exterior of the car, but as we pulled into the passenger drop off area my whole body was shaking and I didn't know if I'd be able to pull it together and make it through the airport. Just as I opened the door a loud voice boomed out over the loudspeaker: the San Francisco airport, for whatever reason, was at a higher security level then usual. An airport miscreant of old, I knew this bode poorly for me.
Having just flown from Newark to Portland several months before, at least this time I had a better idea of what I was in store for, and knew how to act appropriately. I had only a few carryons and they were straightforward, well organized, and free of prohibited contents. As I approached the metal detector, I gave the security attendant my biggest smile.
"So you see I have this bracelet, and it's metal, and it doesn't come off!"Grin.
I followed his eyes from the metal in my face to the metal on my wrist. He was young, black, good looking, with shoulder length dreads, nice cheekbones. He escorted me to a narrow glass three sided chamber just to the right of the detector walkway.
I waited there, shifting my weight from foot to foot and pulling me dress out and down at either side for what seemed like an hour. I have never been good at waiting. I felt distressed about the high traffic of people in proportion to the distance I was from my laptop, which was now nudged to the end of the belt, with my other things as I lingered in airport purgatory. I could taste the vomit in the back of my throat and it brought me back to previous encounters with authority figures.
Suddenly a man was taking my things and escorting me to the back left of the security mezzanine, to the second circle of interrogation. This time around I knew to cooperate without saying anything more than curt responses to the questions they asked. Was I traveling alone?
Yes. Did I have any other carryons elsewhere? No.
Sit down. Stand up, put your arms out. Feet together.
The wand beeped at my bracelet, and I confirmed it as the source of the original trouble.
Left leg out, foot here.
A woman next to me was being subjected to the bomb poofer, a large space pod with Star Trek doors. I'd never been in one but I knew people that had. They mostly chose random peope to subject to these, or some poor foreign person, like this woman, who may not have answered a question properly earlier in the process, or not had the right documentation, or an illegal bottle of moisturizing lotion. You walk in and the doors close behind you and the robot blows air on you, POOF, and then searches for traces of bomb residue in the air that comes off you. She was a little overweight and they had her with her arms up and legs spread wide, hair all tousled. Her family was looking on and their must have been twenty of them. Some of them seemed concerned, others amused. She turned to look at me as they were running the wand up my inner thigh and we both sort of sheepishly smiled at one another.
BEEEEP! I returned my gaze to the girl who was administering my treatment. She had her wand over my left nipple. She paused and looked at me quizzically. I realized that she couldn't have been older than sixteen. She still had braces.
"I have my nipple pierced."
Our eyes were locked and she betrayed a smile, "I was going to say, your not wearing a bra..." I could tell she was a little embarrased "Just put your right leg out and then you can go." She hadn't even touched my things.
I stole another glance at the woman on my right. This time we chuckled a little. I picked up my things and proceeded to my gate, where I found the other hungover sleeping tattooed people, and joined them on the floor. Austin was only a few hours away.

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