Could Be Worse

It was a big ordeal, the family vacation.

We were at some hotel. My brother, sister, father, grandparents, aunts and uncles, I think. My dad loaded the van with our luggage. I think it was a rental. We were headed to the airport for a long flight to the other side of the world.

It was a big airport. Busy. Crowded. People bumping into each other.

My sister was taken away. Detained by security, maybe. It wasn’t clear but I knew she would be OK. She can handle herself.

We arrived at the area where only passengers can go and the person behind the counter asked for my ID. I didn’t have it though. I didn’t have my wallet. My wallet is in my backpack. Where’s my backpack? Dad, where’s my backpack? It’s not in the pile of other luggage it’s not there on the white tile floor of the airport with the other bags. The man behind the big counter, separated by glass, needs my ID. But I don’t have it.

My sister must have my backpack. But they took her. Where?

I stand in a line and then tell another security person that I don’t have my ID. She gave me a card that will let me through without my ID. It has numbers and words printed on it. I stand in another line and the next lady I talk to, a young black woman behind a counter, tells me the card isn’t enough and she needs ID. I don’t have it, what should I do? Go talk to that woman who works in airport security.

She’s a white woman and I tell her my sister has my backpack and it has my ID inside of it. You took my sister so where is she? I look away and when I turn back she had turned into a short, rotund black woman and she told me to follow her.

She led me away from the busyness. Where people just pass through to get from one place to another because they make airports really big so you don’t wait so long. People need the exercise anyway. Objection, relevance. She takes me back further in the airport and this large door that didn’t look like a door, but a kiosk of some sort, opens leading to a warehouse.

There are gray concrete slab floors, fluorescent lights high up in the ceiling and people in uniforms milling about. Long, domed rooms inside of a warehouse. The black woman who works in airport security was guiding me. She would run and then slide around corners and tell me to follow her.

We are walking around the warehouse for a while. There are different sectors with different activity. I think to myself that it reminds me of when I worked at the recycling plant, but I decide not to tell her. 

She takes me to the edge of a holding area of some sort. I remember her trying to tell me that I should just give up and that I won’t find my ID but I ask what is in that area and she doesn’t care if I go inside.

I walk through a doorway and see rows of bunk beds filled with people who seemed to have been detained at the airport for some reason or another. There were hundreds and hundreds of people here. There were long picnic tables and bunk beds with people everywhere. I remember curves. The ceiling or walls or something was curved and not linear. Actually, I don’t remember there being a ceiling at all. There were birds.

I wonder how I am ever going to find my sister here. I start yelling her name. People notice me. They look, dozens, hundreds of them, and see me. Some of them join and start yelling my sister’s name. They don’t know why they are doing it. They just see me yelling  and join in.

A shirtless man runs over and points with both hands with his elbows pointed and says go over there. I turn a corner of long picnic tables filled with people and see my sister sitting down. She is happy. She made some friends, was laughing with people who look cool, and was having a good time. I was never worried about her.

I tell her I am happy to see her and ask if she has my ID. I think it was in my backpack or maybe you had it. She is wearing a fanny pack. She opens it and I see a bag of weed and a bunch of cards and a few little odds and ends. She looks through the cards and says she doesn’t have my ID.

I tell her thank you and I am leaving now.

I walk away, resigned to the fact that I am not making the flight. My sister didn’t seem to care about that she was missing the flight, but I do. That ticket cost a lot of money. It was for the other side of the world.

I walk away and suddenly I’m in a different environment. The desert. Another black woman is with me. She has caramel skin, wears a loose fitting tank top and doesn’t work at the airport. She is kind and gentle, understanding. We are walking, or floating, or she is carrying me, comforting me, holding me. She smells good, refreshing and sweet and her skin is warm. We are moving down a curved sidewalk in the desert. There are a few shrubs, grasses and trees around us and it is just before sunset. She is comforting me.

I tell her I am upset that I am missing the flight and that ticket cost a lot of money.

The last thing I remember is telling her, “But it could be worse.”


I wake up on my air mattress in a cold room.

… I lost my identification?

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