Take Off Your Shoes: The Holy Ground of Airport Security

A woman hasn't seen her sister in eleven years when she learns that her sister is dying. A car accident bogged down her effort to visit, and her sister died before she could get there. She went for a walk on the beach and found a long knotted rope. She started untying the knots, thinking about her sister as she loosened the knots and untangled the rope. Six hours later the rope was neatly collected and she was ready to take her place as the family matriarch.

She hasn't flown in a plane since 1987. She just got married, so all her identifications show her maiden name. Her husband, a merchant marine, is at sea for two weeks. Her flight was, of course, booked at the last second. But you have to go, to return and be restored to your place in the family, as much for your family as for you.

I want to call my sister, to tell her I won't let the years separate us. I want to cull the herd of my life so I can quickly go where I need to be in a hurry. I want to say something more profound and resonant than "She's in a better place" and "She's looking down on you in love" or "I'll be praying for you," as much because that can't really be comforting, even though she's clearly comforted by it, as because I must be a better wordsmith, a more sophisticated thinker, than that.

I've got nothing. I just offer my prayers and nod in agreement. Her sister is in a better place than the place where she contracted lung cancer and lost touch with her sister for more than a decade. She is looking down in love, because love is the thing that survives death.

We're in line together at security, and the TSA agent is wonderfully compassionate, even though she thought we were a couple when clearly I'm younger and could do better, right? And then we are through security and she's going to concourse N and I'm going to concourse C. I say goodbye and she doesn't hear me because she's in her own head. I haven't made a friend; I've just made my way through the security line. And it's not even 7am yet. But the world spins madly on, and the finger of God holds the axis steady, and my shoes are off, because the place where I am standing is holy ground.


Anonymous said…
This is like a top, spinning so fast that you can't see the design on it.
What are we talking about, the airport that has become a place of intrusion, fear & trepidaytion, or is there a hidden meaning somewhere.
You have written a puzzel to be unknotted like the rope.
Anonymous said…
'I haven't made a friend' you say.
Were you looking for a friend ?
Or, perhaps just at loose ends & needed to be needed ?
What is friendship any way ?
I vow to be here for you always, to the best of my ability, to perceptively anticipate your needieness & be there for you & you will also swear to be there for me, so that I am secure & thus we are now friends.
Sign on the dotted like please.
Anonymous said…
Just lay down on the couch & make yourself comfortable Kemo Sabe & let's see if we can get to the bottom of this mysteriousness that has presented itself, shall we.
Anonymous said…
Do you really say
she's in a better place
she's looking down on you with love
I'll be praying for you
And they work -
You couldn't say
she didn't like it here you know
she didn't like you so it is just as well you were not there to spoil her last moments
be relieved that you don't have the burdon of her any more
But what if it is true
Which means that she was just humoring you & you misunderstood it to be comforting.
But then you have to be a certain way, dont you. Even if it is, just in case.
Anonymous said…
TSA screening :
Today it is estimated that aprox: one billion dispossessed people are on the move around the world.
The illegal people movers are busy.
How does one smuggle / transport people from one place to another without detection.
The Almight Buck.
Kemo Sabe, have you considered other modes of transport to the legitimate & mainstream means.
Anonymous said…
Aprox: 14 years ago, Jack was 3 & so was Teddy. Jack rode his trycicle, Ted was riding in the tray behind & Nanny was on foot. They walked down the street over 2 roads & turned left, at the end of the block they crossed the road to the left & then crossed the busy road to the beach.
Nanny looked to see if Ted was okay; but he was not there; this struck fear in Nannys heart.
They had to backtrack, over the busy road, over the next road looking in all directions as the went.
Some kind person had found Teddy & sat him under the palm tree, hoping that we would find him, knowing exactly how important a ted he was to some little child.
And sure enough there is exactly where we found him.
I still remember that kind person & still today am very greatful to them, a stranger that I have never met, a thoughtful friend in the world.
love the info, tnx

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