Nov 27, 2017

IT is not spelled with an E

I think people have this idea, or maybe fantasy, of going through life and finding someone (they are not related to) who understands them, who values them for being who they are. I know this is something that many people, especially as teenagers, crave and yearn for, because, to a degree, everyone feels a little misunderstood. A little separate and lonely.  I never felt misunderstood as a teenager, but then again I never felt the need to be understood by anyone other than myself.
At work, in a call center, I sit across from this guy, Alex. When I look up over the partition and happen to catch his eye, I wiggle my eyebrows madly. I can move my eyebrows independently, which I guess not many people can do, and I like to pretend I’m Jack Black from School of Rock in that scene where he does The Wave with his eyebrows while peeking into a classroom full of children.
Alex responds really well to this and wiggles his eyebrows back (though not independently), but Alex has been promoted recently and soon will no longer be sitting across from me. We were joking about who I was going to wiggle my eyebrows at in the future, and how they would respond to such an overtly maniacal expression, which I didn’t quite realize it was.  I made some joke about sending out signals with my eyebrows over the partitions to the eighty-or-so-odd people in my direct line of sight when Alex is not in front of me, fishing for a response like those people who send out radio waves into space, waiting for extraterrestrial life to respond.
Now, for the last month my whole team has been talking about this new movie, IT.  Or rather, we instant message each other and every time we have to use the word it, we capitalize IT.  And we've been talking about and mentioning IT quite a lot actually, in the team chat especially we're like, “Oh you know how IT is, heh heh heh,” and other people have been like “Oh, IT? Oh I know IT,” “You know IT?” “Oh, you know I know IT,” and we've been like, “Everyone knows IT, lol” with silent, knowledgeable faces over the partitions. Because, remember – we work in a call center, all conversation takes place in these online chats.
I will repeat this again, because I know it’s confusing.
Almost everything we communicate to each other is in writing, already.
When I made that joke about my eyebrows and extraterrestrial life, I finished it with “waiting for IT to respond!” Which the people on my team thought was funny and physically laughed out loud about, not just LOL’d in the chat. To my confusion.
But it was at that moment, when I suddenly realized that “IT” was not “E.T. phone home.” And then I said something like “Oh wait, IT is not spelled with an E.” And it came out, much to the ensuing hilarity of my teammates, that this entire time I was sitting next to them, every time one of them mentioned IT, and I read the letters “I” and “T,” I wasn’t thinking of It, which is apparently about some psychotic killer clown, I was thinking of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.  
I had gone through the last month believing that IT stood for Extra Terrestrial. As the seven other people on my team took a moment to ROFL and laugh their collective ass off, I took a moment to reflect that originally they thought I had been trying to call some killer clown to me with my Jack-Black-eyebrow choreography, instead of a friendly extraterrestrial who somehow understood dyslexic eyebrow Morse Code.
Coincidentally, both movies came out around the same time in my life.
Before I was born.
I know that’s no excuse for continually reading IT as ET.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that IT was not spelled with an E. I had only noticed this whole discrepancy to begin with when I wrote “Extra Terrestrial” and realized the initials didn’t quite match up with IT. An epiphany that sent me spinning into flashbacks of several other pinnacle-type experiences of my childhood.
            These kinds of occurrences really take me back.
When I was growing up my mom would tell other people, “Oh ignore her, she’s on a different planet,” or “Watch out for her, she’s on a completely different planet,” which I tended to think of as either excuses for my having said something when I was supposed to sit there like a potted plant, or a warning to my teachers on field trips.
But, you know, that’s who I am. I forgot for a while, because it seemed like I was functioning well, but I think it was just because most of my interactions are superficial and there was no one who knew me well enough to catch that was on a completely different planet. I wasn’t even in the same solar system.
And I don’t even have a Ham radio! How am I going to find true love if the aliens can’t find me?
I would like to think that I’m just misunderstood. It would be really convenient if that were the case, but I’m not misunderstood. I am the one misunderstanding.

Sep 23, 2017

Kristen Stewart's New Car and Other Modes of Transportation

For the last several months I have been commuting to my job in downtown Boston via public transportation. It takes nearly an hour both ways, going to work and getting back home, making my work day at least eleven hours, often more like twelve. It’s ironic because I can see the skyscrapers of Boston from the end of my street. I can see downtown Boston, where I work, from where I live!
This last week has been the worst. School started and commutes of approximately thirty minutes have turned into over an hour. I can honestly say that sitting in a stationary bus on one of those elevated high-way loops might be one of the most agonizing experience of my life, and I relive it daily. I could probably get somewhere faster by riding a Ferris wheel.
Every single day I think to myself, I need to unlock the secret of teleportation, which I tragically can’t do, since I have no free time because I am so busy commuting.  I used to have this obsession with getting a car but now I have an obsession with apparating. I’ve realized that my dissatisfaction with known ways of transportation is not new. Looking back over the long years of my short life there have been several instances in which I unconsciously attempted to push the boundaries of the basic methods of leaving one place and going somewhere else.
There was that time I drank most of a bottle of champagne. I’m not really sure what exactly the purpose of that night was, I just remember being in a hideously neglected and dingy farmhouse on the edge of campus and a kitten. And that I apparently pissed off someone, but I don’t think I even knew them anyway.
At some point it had sprinkled and it was also really hot out.
I ended up lying down in the middle of a damp road, rolling home, but mostly just lying there. I  had suddenly realized there was this super effective and completely unexplored mode of transportation that involved lying on the ground and I was completely sure I could get home by doing this.  I had the power. The power to roll, instead of walk.
I didn’t get very far because my friend kept trying to get me to stand up by pulling on my arms. Then a cop car suddenly coasted alongside us and was like, “MISS DO YOU NEED AN AMBULANCE?” And my friend started hissing at me, “Omigod, PARISA! GET. UP. NOW.” while I think her boyfriend said to the cops, “Don’t worry, she’s like this normally too.”
And I think I declared with authority, “All quiet on the western front, officers! Carry on!”
And they were like, “…Oh, she’s conscious,” as if disappointed.
And I sprung from the ground (I assume I sprung, I was just suddenly standing) and went skipping off into the darkness, my friend shouting after me, and her boyfriend shouting after her.
Then the other night I had a dream that I was driving a car with no steering wheel.  
I had been a passenger in the car while Kristen Stewart drove but then she did a horrible job parallel parking, so I told her to switch with me and I’d re-parallel park it.
And she had been like, “Are you sure you can drive it? It’s a new car.”
And I was like, “Totally, I’m totally sure I can drive it, I’ve been in new cars before.”
And she was like, “It’s a new car.”
And I think I just said back, “I can at least parallel park it better than you did.”
And I got in the driver’s seat and promptly noticed there was no steering wheel.  I heard Kristen Stewart say again, in a little walkie-talkie ghost voice, “It’s a new car,” and I thought, Ohhh, it’s not a new car, it’s a new car! And then suddenly the car was whizzing off, not parallel parking, just zooming forward and there was a turn coming up and I was like, oh god, cars need steering wheels. Then I wondered, am I in control right now? I can’t tell.  Somehow I made the turn just by thinking really hard about it, and suddenly my confidence soared and I was like, Hey this isn’t so bad! I have no idea where I’m going or how precisely this car works, but I feel like maybe I’ve got a handle on this, at least figuratively if not physically… since there is no steering wheel to hold on to… Then on a related note, I realized I had no idea how to go in reverse. How was I going to do a better job parallel parking (assuming I managed to get back to where I had left Kristen Stewart) if I couldn’t go in reverse?
I looked around the dashboard and center console area, and there was no detectable reverse setting, and it occurred to me that maybe Kristen Stewart couldn’t find reverse either, that’s why she did such a horrible job parallel parking.  The car was only making right turns taking me somewhere.  I pictured Kristen Stewart, back on the sidewalk, watching me drive off uncontrollably.
You know, people don’t give that woman enough credit.
I woke up on my back, diagonally in bed, with my head hanging over the left side, and realized that the calming feel of inertia, of being pressed against a car seat, had actually just been my head hanging off the side of the bed, and my neck kind of hurt.  
What did we learn from this? That even if it looks like Kristen Stewart isn’t doing something the way we think it should be done, that doesn’t mean that any of us could do it better.   I think I can also say with certainty that the car with no steering wheel will not be an economic success.  Additionally, I have remembered a mild obsession I had with mopeds, which I should perhaps revive and re-examine. The other week, there was a shooting on the Boston Common around seven pm and the shooters apparently got away on mopeds. It says something positive about mopeds that the shooters managed to get away in the middle of rush hour traffic. I wonder what kind of mopeds they had and if they were the classic 50cc engines or if they had been souped up to go more than 31 miles per hour.  
And now here is a police report from my town mentioning a moped:

Sept. 17, 12 p.m.: A man crossed Arsenal Street near the Arsenal Mall against the light and while doing so a person approached on a moped. The men exchanged words and the man crossing the street was punched by the man on the moped. He suffered only minor injuries. Police looked around the area but could not locate the man on the moped. The man who was punched did not want to seek charges.”

Jun 25, 2017

Wonder Woman Is Not a Feminist Film

            I have heard many people talking about the new Wonder Woman film, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, as if it’s some sort of feminist triumph.  One review read, “Gadot proves that women can be fierce and loyal, as well as empathetic.”  The same review also noted that there was more romance in the film than in many of the male-centric superhero films.  I have seen many people I know on Facebook dressing up in Wonder Woman costumes to celebrate feminism, and while it is always fun to wear a bustier, I doubt people are doing it for the reasons they think they are.
The premise of the film is this seemingly feminist idea of Wonder Woman and the film is being marketed as an empowering film for women, but when I saw it in the movie theatre last weekend I felt rather disappointed. It seemed like all that talk of feminism was just hype. And maybe even something more insidious, since it’s teaching us to unite female empowerment with something mythical, revealing clothes, and a sheltered childhood. I enjoyed the film, but I don’t think it is nearly as feminist as it’s being touted, nor is it a sincere contribution to feminism in any way.
Wonder Woman, Diana, did not grow up with men or boys. She isn’t even exposed to them until she is an adult. She did not accumulate the lifetime of experiences that trains, conditions, and to an extent brainwashes women to undervalue themselves, to think of how they are viewed instead of how they view themselves.  She did not go through puberty under the male gaze.  Culturally and socially, Diana is a foreigner; she’s not part of the system, nor is she trying to be. She’s separate.
There is a scene where Diana is the only woman in a room filled with men and they are all astounded and aghast at her presence. This is sold as a kind of feminist scene, like “Here she is, breaking some patriarchal rule!” But that is a façade to make the movie look more feminist without actually being more feminist, because she does not invite other women into the room with her.  She does not consider other women to be equal to herself or herself to be like other women. And she holds herself above both sexes. Women and men are less powerful than she is, and she knows it.
When she acts surprised by the differences between men and women in society - for instance in dress, this is another pandering device because no one can be as educated as she claims to be (able to speak over a hundred languages) and ignorant of how the world treats and thinks of women, or of women’s limited roles in recorded history.  Every language reflects these aspects of gender roles; they pervade society at every level.
There is a scene in London when Diana sees a baby for the first time and she exclaims, “Oh, a baby!” in joy and tries to rush over to it, but is stopped by Chris Pine’s character, Steve Trevor.  Now, we know that part of it is funny because Diana has never seen a baby before, being the only child on an island entirely populated by adult warrior women. It was funny, the audience laughed, I laughed. Gal Gadot showed great comedic timing.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t see it for what it was –a joke about women, for a male audience. Laughing about a woman’s response to a baby is much older than Wonder Woman, and in fact has long been used to say that women are not meant for higher thinking or to tackle complex problems, when they have such a visceral response to the mere sight of a small child. Personally, I think it’s sort of sad that a joke like that had to be used in a film about Wonder Woman in 2017. It lowers the bar for the audience, expectations for other films, what feminism looks like on screen, and it instantly lowered my respect for all of the hard work that went into Wonder Woman (2017), even as I laughed. Because it meant that the creators of this film, with all their skill in directing, acting, and writing, weren’t confident that they would be able to keep an audience’s attention on the heroine, so they used put-down humor, and instead of humanizing Wonder Woman, it just turned her into a joke, an example of the female image women are trying to get away from.
The Amazons seem, at least superficially, mildly feminist, or perhaps some people might think that the Amazons, a society comprised entirely of women, are what feminists admire and strive to emulate. And so, maybe the movie becomes feminist that way. Both conclusions are wrong. The Amazons are only in the movie for beginning and background purposes and Diana doesn’t stay with them or stay in touch, so the sisterhood aspect is lost anyway.  Also, the Amazons, a somewhat mythic ancient society that we only really have stories and theories about, have been sort of fetishized by history and used to mock feminism. The way they are used in the comic industry and in Wonder Woman’s origin story is proof of that.
 Wonder Woman’s Amazons are an extremely militant race of female warriors and yet they talk about war as if it’s something men do. “Be careful of mankind,” Hippolyta warns Diana. Though there is some kind of prophecy that men will bring war on them, it’s still hypocritical that with all their warmongering, they are against war and think of it as someone else’s problem, not to mention the whole, “we’ve had bad experiences, we can’t do this again” attitude, also at odds with the constant training. It resembles the idea that women, without men, would choose not to fight and not go to war. As if women are not real fighters. As if we are not continually fighting against something that’s physical, dominating and cultural. That’s a disempowering idea, and one of those archaic notions about women. In another scene of the movie, when Diana is trying on different outfits with Etta, Trevor’s secretary, she asks, “How do women fight in this?” and Etta says, “Well, we use our minds,” and mutters something about suffrage which is sort of lost, then jokingly adds, “But I’m not opposed to a bit of fisticuffs myself.”  Whatever feminist tones are supposed to be emphasized in this scene are too subtle and too Amazon-specific to make the connection between women’s fashion and women’s oppression. The message here is that it’s so ingrained in the culture that women don’t fight, that it’s simply an unsaid rule. It's notable that the lone female villain also only uses her mind to fight. However, the best way to challenge that rule in the film would have been to force it to be said.
 The question Diana should have asked, that would have actually challenged the conventions of the time and in the movie, is “How do women move in this?”  True, there would have been no joke about fisticuffs, no mention of suffrage (but that seemed to function more as a period anchor than feminist plug, anyway) and Etta would not have been able to say, “We use our minds,” – although I think that would have been a great response.
  This is 2017 and third wave feminism. We are no longer just using our minds, we have passed that, and are using our bodies, our voices, and our presence. We should be using our power as an audience and consumers, too. The idea of women using their minds to fight for their beliefs is from the beginning of the twentieth century, when women owned nothing and were the property of their husband or father.  Simply including this sort of historical allusion or detail is not enough for a film to count as feminist, especially not in 2017, and especially not about a female super-hero. There should be more and it should be able to connect to the feminists of today, not the feminists of 1918. Those women had lower expectations and they got what they wanted, the right to vote, because they believed that once women had the right to vote, they would be able to use that power to change the world, fighting for women’s rights over generations, for lifetimes to come. They were not fighting for themselves, they knew that in their own lifetime they were not going to be able to have the freedom of choice, or equality they felt women should have. They were just fighting to get the one position that they would be able to defend because holding that position gave them an advantage against people who would want to take it away from them. These women were using the concept of trench warfare.
And the feminists of 1918 absolutely did not just use their minds. They physically protested, they were beat up, they were thrown in prison, they went on hunger strikes. Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Emmeline Pankhurst, along with many others did all this in England fifteen or more years before World War I and the period Wonder Woman is supposed to take place in. The Pankhursts, Emmeline and her daughters, were especially militant feminism activists. They favored arson and were repeatedly thrown into prison, where they staged hunger strikes. The movie doesn’t mention this but in 1918, the year Wonder Woman is supposed to take place, the Representation of the People Act granted votes to all men over the age of 21 and women over the age of 30 in Britain. Feminists had fought for this and were they satisfied with it? No, they kept fighting to close the discrepancy between men and women.
What we have today is because of them, and I think we owe those women a hundred years ago to keep trying to change our culture and our media into something that reflects ourselves. If those women had been born with what we have today, they would still be fighting for more, that was the whole point. They wanted the right to vote so that more women would be able to participate, women who didn’t have the ability or independent wealth to fight for their own rights would still be able to make a difference if they could vote in elections and on laws. Feminism is all about empowering other women, not just yourself.
That is what is insidious about this film. It’s so wrong to contribute and reaffirm the glossed-over versions of history that recite phrases like, “women fight with their minds,” when that is not at all how women got the vote.  
Diana does not invite other women into the sphere of power she occupies. She stands alone, in a highly sexualized outfit.  She is exceptional and she is the exception. Feminism is not about being the exception, or being different from everyone else. It is about basic human rights.
The most feminist character is the entire film is Steve Trevor. He has a suffragette secretary, who he puts in charge of running the mission, he falls in love with Diana as an equal, not as someone who would ever be dependent on him or share the same beliefs, and he chooses a horrible death that would save the lives of countless others by getting rid of the poisonous gas.  He is willing to share his power and use it to empower others.  He’s the real hero of the film and he’s not a woman.
I also want to point out that Wonder Woman is actually a rather difficult heroine to use for feminism. Wonder Woman and Feminism don’t actually coincide – despite how badly people want these two ideas to come together and embody the REAL Wonder Woman, the one inside everyone’s minds that is less woman and more wonder. Wonder Woman is a terrible example of feminism because it’s not at all feminist. Wonder Woman herself – forever sexy, badass, and young, forever from an island only populated by women, and curious about and protective of men - is a male idea.  The character was created by men, William Moulton Marston (Charles Moulton) and H. G. Peter in 1942, and even though Moulton apparently created her with feminist ideals, in the first comics, she occupied the typical female roles of nurse and secretary. In the early forties, perhaps even the idea of women working counted as feminist but times have changed. Regardless of era, there are inherent aspects of Wonder Woman that disqualify her from being an example of feminism, a relatable symbol that we as individuals feel a bond with, that does not depend on admiration but mutual respect, that can empower others and be a gateway to a kind of sisterhood where everyone is united by the common goal of owning ourselves. That is not what Wonder Woman is. Wonder Woman and her story give us a false sense of empowerment because of the fantasy of what it would be like to be her, to have so much power and independence. That’s not what feminism is about, it’s not about buying into an unreachable idea of a lone woman with super powers that someone else has imagined, that is controlled by someone else, and that a corporation called DC Comics makes millions of dollars off of.  Feminism is not about being alone, it’s about being part of something bigger than yourself that you can draw support from when you need it, and being your own person at the same time. 
 Wonder Woman is not a real woman and in the real world no woman will ever be like her.  She is not her own person, she is a superhero and while everyone possesses a version of her, she’s trademarked by DC Comics. She does not belong to herself.

Maybe this movie passes the Bechdel test. But I think to be a feminist film, a movie has to do more than just pass the test. It has to actually support its claims with an honest and easily identifiable, concrete endorsement of feminism, not just imply feminism. It can’t rely on mentioning historical events to convey support for feminism. As the motto of the Women’s Social and Political Union, the leading militant organization campaigning for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom until 1917, states, “Deeds Not Words”. Wonder Women (2017) is not a feminist film and in my mind does more damage than good for feminism by selling itself as a feminist film and perpetuating an inaccurate idea of historical women. If the people writing and directing this film had done any amount of research, it would have been apparent that the image of feminism they painted was so inferior to what we as women are looking for, not to mention so incredibly uninformed about the history of feminism, that its almost as if their mistakes and misrepresentations were made on purpose, which is kind of subversive and kind of like propaganda.  It is mindboggling that this film has managed to convince people that what we see in it is feminism.

Jun 17, 2017

Letter to my cat


Dear Cat,

Today, a few hours after coming home from Angell Memorial without you, I felt something brush against my ankle while I was in the kitchen and, without looking down, I assumed it was you. I began to speak to you but as soon as I made a noise, I realized I was alone and you were not here anymore. It was a hair of mine, clinging to my leg. A deep pain bloomed out from my chest and swallowed me, and I was breathless, standing in my kitchen, where it felt like suddenly everything around me was dead and I was in some alternate universe, that I could leave and go back home where my cat would be waiting for me, to share a few bites of my food.

The world was a better place when you were in it. Thank you for being part of our lives for fourteen years. We have to figure out how to exist without you now.

Love, Parisa

The last picture I took of her, at the vet's

May 24, 2017

Going Through Security at LAX

Griffith Observatory and a view of Los Angeles

          Once, in a different world, when Barak Obama was our president – about a year ago – I was going through security at LAX. Debbie had been waved through seemingly right away and raced off, while I had been put in the slow line.  More and more time was passing and I was getting nervous about missing the flight.  There were about five or six people in this much slower line, and all of our attention was on the x-ray machine as our bags were being slowly fed in and out. And I mean slowly. The security guy kept on reversing the conveyer belt to x-ray certain bags over and over again, while we were all waiting, barefoot, to walk through that body scanner thing.
By the time I made it to the other side and was waiting for my stuff to come out of the x-ray machine, Debbie was long gone. I could only assume she had gone ahead to the plane. It was about this time, when I was wondering if she realized how far behind her I was and if she could somehow delay the plane from leaving, when I got a good look at the other people I was standing in line with. On either side of me stood two young men who were probably brothers and obviously Persian. Then there was another guy who looked very Middle Eastern, maybe Arabic, then a black guy, and then a man in a turban. I looked at the other, much faster line and saw something very different. A crowd of Anglo-Saxons and their strollers being waved through, and I thought this is not a coincidence.
I watched the x-ray machine with renewed fervor, occasionally glancing out of the corner of my eye at the other people on line with me, which I saw them doing to me as well. It was like we were all simultaneously judging each other but also on the same side. There was one security guard at the x-ray machine for the other line, but our line had three.
Suddenly there was some commotion as the three security guys came to a decision and pulled out a big black backpack. One held it up and called out, “Whose backpack is this?”
I looked at the Persian guy to the left of me, and our eyes met. He shook his head, and I looked at the one on the other side of me, who also shook his head. As one, we all turned to the security guard and shook our heads, silently. By this time the Indian guy had also joined us and when the security guy demanded if the bag belonged to him or the Middle Eastern guy they also said no without actually speaking. “So whose is it, then?” The security man demanded, and we all looked at him blankly.  He looked at me critically for a moment before affirming yet again that the bag didn’t belong to any of the men on line with me. “Are you sure this backpack doesn’t belong to any of you?”  Yes, we were sure!
We all looked at him as he looked at us. It was like one of those moments where the phrase, “or forever hold your peace,” echoed silently through the minds of everyone present. We all understood that, we embraced it. We knew there was no going back after not claiming that backpack.
My backpack was a violent shade of pink, and it was visible through the slotted rubber pieces at the exit of the x-ray machine. It would come out a little and then get sucked back in when the conveyer belt reversed and they decided to examine everything all over again. It kept on popping out partway and then going back in, again and again.  The fourth time it happened, I had to restrain myself from dodging forward on my bare feet and plucking it from the machine, which was good since a second later it was sucked back in again and I am not sure I would have been able to clamber over the inclined rolling pins to get to the conveyer belt in time. I remember those rolling pin-slides from playgrounds. I also probably would have been noticed by the numerous security guards, particularly the one that saw me twitch slightly as my stuff disappeared back into the x-ray machine and continued to watch me for long minutes afterward.
I vaguely remember that some bald guy in fatigues popped up out of nowhere to claim the unclaimed backpack and that he was led off to give a security guard a tour through his personal belongings. I remembered that because I began both darkly and sincerely praying that wouldn’t happen to me this time. My phone was in the x-ray machine, there was no way to tell Debbie what was going on.  
I was still thinking about how to communicate with her when suddenly my pink backpack rolled down the rolling pins, and in a thunderbolt of realization it occurred to me that I had zoned out and lost track of time and that my plane was leaving without me. I had this vision of Debbie sitting next to an empty seat, looking around anxiously, as the plane started taxiing away from the gate. I quickly picked up my backpack and threw it on my back before going for my duffel bag. As I made to dodge away, one of the guys I had been on line with put his arm out to stop me, saying, “Wait! Your laptop!” And the guy in the turban behind me said,  “And your shoes!” And I looked back to see my laptop, shoes, and toiletries sitting nicely, nearly abandoned on the rolling pins.
When I tried to toss my laptop in my backpack, I was taken aback by the sight of two pounds of dates I had been lugging around since Death Valley and had completely forgotten about. I had forgotten about them so completely that even in the moment when I saw them again, my response was, “What is that? How did it get there? Why is it taking up so much room?” I may have said one or two of those questions out loud. Then I promptly ignored this strange obstacle as I stuffed my laptop and toiletries back into my bag.  Putting on shoes was odd, because I had gotten so used to the feel of the airport linoleum and small jagged rocks under my feet.  After ascertaining that all my possessions were in my possession again, I promptly started running around the airport madly while gravity tried to rip my arms from my body and force me to leave them behind. I didn’t even know what gate my plane was at, so I had to find one of those changing screens of lists first.

I finally made it to a deserted gate where a lone flight attendant leaned against a desk, staring off into space in a way that alarmed me. I raced up to her, and was like, “Is the plane - gone?” She sort of sighed, and scanned my boarding pass while saying, “No, it’s still here,” then waved me forward. In my jog down the extended tunnel thing to the plane, I kept expecting to run into a line of people shuffling forward as I turned the corners of the dimly lit, slightly bouncy walkway but I saw no one until I stepped onto the plane. I turned down the aisle and immediately spotted Debbie, sitting next to an empty seat and watching the entrance anxiously, almost exactly as I had imagined, except with less space between seat rows. She looked really relieved to see me. I also felt pretty relieved, and absurdly magnanimous as I took my seat. I asked her if she would have delayed the plane for me. She snorted and said no. Then we giggled for a while.