Standing up in the aisle waiting to get out of the plane, I looked back over the last day and was pleased to report to myself that as quirky as the plan had sounded, it had gone inspiringly well.
A 24 hours whirlwind trip over the border to renew my visa, I had looked up "the shortest direct flight from my location" and booked a round trip to Phoenix.
I knew that once in the US, I wanted to visit an art supplies store, linger in a bathtub, and eat as much Italian food as I could. In any order.
Oh, and to receive a brand new stamp on my passport upon re-entry into Mexico.
It's good to have goals, and these were mine.
Because Life responds kindly to Clarity, I was also gifted one delicious evening with a friend who lives in that city and who happened to text me the night before, our first communication in six months.
As I said, it was really good.
The return flight had been a bumpy one and I had noticed how lovely the mom was, across the aisle from me. Asian American, two young kids, she had managed to keep them calm through the whole thing and I am pretty sure I saw her change a diaper with one hand. The stuff of quiet goddesses all over the world.
As we are all waiting for the door to open, she is standing behind her children, one hand over the older one's shoulder, the little one snugly propped between the two of them.
These minutes always feel longer than they are and the energy is buzzing.
But I am deeply calm because I have a backpack full of paintbrushes, a stomach full of mascarpone, and the memory of a long bath and delightful conversation.
This is when the man in front of me starts to open the overhead compartment and to lower heavy suitcases.
He is not lowering them. He is ... violencing them down.
As I watch his gym-built muscles sling down heavy hard objects, my intuition kicks in and tells me that this may be one of his only way to get validation, that this is important to him, and that the violencing is part of why it's important. Which really, is none of my business.
Until a shiny, hard-looking suitcase gets slung within an inch of the little boy's head.
My heart stopped, I held my breath and as I exhaled I was able to see how else this could have turned out. Not good.
But not nearly as bad as what happened next.
By the time the suitcase was on the floor, the little boy's mom had managed to both kiss her son's head (next to the big bad gash she and I both saw in our mama's hearts) and ... and get ready for this one because this is where it gets rich.... apologize.
She apologized to the man who almost injured her kid with a suitcase because he was moving so damn fast and furious.
She quietly said, "I'm sorry."
Did he hear it? I don't know. Did he apologize? No.
All of a sudden, something akin to an inner earthquake bubbled up in me. A volcano about to erupt with no way to stop it.
As I heard her murmur "I'm sorry," my heart shrunk up and my eyes filled up with tears.
I tried to think about something else, anything else.
I couldn't do it.
The plane's door was still shut and as snot began to make its way under my mask, I saw myself, 40 years ago.
Standing in a boy's room, frozen, out of my body, in pain - and apologizing.
Apologizing for not having been clear enough in my English words when I begged him to stop. Apologizing for whatever mixed signals I might have given to make him believe I was okay with what he was doing to me. Apologizing for being a prude, for being no fun. For ruining his evening, for risking to make him feel bad. For hurting his feelings when he realized I had not liked it.
I apologized. Many times.
While I bled and for an act that altered my body forever.
Right there in the plane, there was no stopping this flood. In my mind, I heard other women - and men - apologize for anything from being bumped into in the street to having left marriages where they hadn't been valued. Apologizing in work meetings for grabbing back their thought processes after having been interrupted. Apologizing for returning a dish that was not the one they ordered. Apologizing for being hurt by someone's - anyone's - betrayal. Apologizing for taking space. Apologizing for their child's head being so fragile that it could have possibly been injured by a man's lack of awareness.
It had been such a smooth, uneventful trip. I was almost home. Why this? Why now?
As I started to get my composure back, the man had moved on to the next overhead compartment and was helping women with their luggage. Up, down. Fast, hard. Efficient. Muscles bulging. Again, I had the sense that he was in his special place, an important place for him.
When a lady a few rows ahead thanked him and called him a godsent, he nodded solemnly. When she turned to his wife to let her know what a lucky woman she was, his wife's reply was "well, you know. Eighteen years of training."
And right there in front of all of us, she chopped off his testicles. His chivalrous act no longer belonged to him, but to her.
That was a lot.
As we finally were given the go-ahead to exit the plane, my levity of just a few minutes prior had made way to a commitment to never freaking again apologize for my reaction to someone's terrible behavior towards me. No more. Done. (of course, just days later I received a pop quiz and I am going to give myself a B minus on that one. It's a process)
Then, once again, I was reminded to trust my intuition when it comes to why people might do what they do. And to find the sweet spot between having compassion for that - and not abandoning myself.
While driving home a short while later, I was filled with gratitude for these lessons that show up when we expect them the least, inviting us to grow and to get closer to our truest, most free selves.
Here's to growing, to feeling, to allowing the pain to crack us open and show us the light. Here's to saying yes to lightening quick trips that don't make sense ... but do.
I have started to write this in my head many times and today is the day it gets out of my head and onto the paper.
We are in grave danger.
A terrible terrible disease has gotten a hold of us and it is highly contagious.
Over the last year of talking with many people on the phone, I have heard the suffering, I have heard the loss.
I have heard the loss of relatives, friends, and relationships.
I have heard the anguish and the helplessness.
This disease scares me to the bottom of my soul.
I fear that as each day passes it becomes stronger.
It is barely spoken about and yet each day it makes its way into more people, including young children and very old men and women.
I have not been able to put a name to this disease but I am able to describe it:
I think of it almost as having been handed a little card. And this little card entitles the bearer to share their strong opinions in unkind ways. To use these opinions to further divide.
Yes, to use a popular word, this is unprecedented.
I don’t think that ever before have we been granted the right to be so harsh with each other.
How do we prevent it from spreading further? How do we heal from this?
I fear that as other diseases come and go, this one won’t.
And I fear the chronic sequels it will leave on our hearts and hearts of the generations to come.
In the first week of March 2020, I woke up in Mexico from a very vivid dream. In my dream, some people carried bright red hearts. In my dream, I knew that these bright red hearts were very very contagious. And that as other people caught them, these people felt a deep sense of love and peace.
I guess another virus of sorts.
I did not understand this dream very well at the time, but when I close my eyes I can still connect with its power.
We have had opinions before. Not everyone has always agreed on everything.
Opinions are important.
In a way, I think that this is how things advance. When we can share our perspectives with each other and grow from that. Learn something new, consider something we haven’t thought of before.
Harshness rarely has those effects.
And just because we have somehow been handed the right to be harsh with each other, does not mean that we can’t choose differently for ourselves.
For the sake of our physical, emotional and mental health, for the sake of what we are teaching our children and grandchildren, I implore you to try.