Sunday, August 19, 2007

Part One: Airports

I'm trying to remember how it felt to leave the USA. I'm sure I was terrified. I'm sure I didn't sleep much before I left. I know that I watched a lot of movies in the days before I left. You see, I do this thing I like to call a "stress coma", where I become so anxious that I just stop moving, and stop doing anything productive. I'm sure I did that; I always do before something big happens.

I left Phoenix around 1 am, on the morning of June 22nd. My first flight was from Phoenix to Houston, on one of those tiny little planes that make me doubt whether or not we'll get blown away by a strong gust of wind way up at 30,000 feet. I tried to sleep, but couldn't. I read a book, "Band of Brothers" by Stephen Ambrose.

I stopped in Houston, and felt like there wasn't a single person in that airport. I brushed my teeth and took my anti-malarials, feeling very grown up and very young at the same time.

Then I sat. And sat. And sat. And didn't sleep, because I was afraid I would miss my flight.

A tiny Mexican lady came up to me, asking if I spoke any Spanish. She was headed to Oaxaca and couldn't find her gate, because she didn't speak English. I'd been to Oaxaca before, and hearing that she was headed there made my heart soar. We talked a little bit about her daughter, who lived in Houston. I was impressed by her courage, impressed by the fact that she was navigating around an airport and a country where she couldn't speak a word of the language. It brought me a lot of peace, knowing that this little woman in red patent leather pumps wasn't letting anxiety hold her back.