Saturday, September 10, 2011


“You’re wearing a green top,” he says. “With blue pants,” he says. We are hurrying through the airport. Our seats are confirmed. Our suitcase has hit the conveyer belt. The time is 5:58 AM. I run my hand along the neck of my shirt. It’s smooth, no ridge denoting the change of colour from blue to white. He is right. The green top is occupying the spot where the blue and white top ought to be. I hate him! “You could have told me before we left home,” I grumble. “You could have told me before we sent the suitcase down the line,” I bluster. “You could have just kept it to yourself and not told me until we had the suitcase back and I could do something about it,” I rage. “Yes,” he said. “But it’s early, and I just noticed it, and you usually dress yourself.” He is right again. I hate him. We are proceeding, arm in arm, along the concourse. We are not speaking. It’s quiet here, but not peaceful. I am hearing the voices of my childhood. When I was a kid, adults would tell me important things that every blind child needed to know. When I was a kid, people would say, “You’ve got to learn that people see you, even though you don’t see them. So don’t do things you wouldn’t want to see if you were a sighted person.” Modern English translation: Don’t wear green shirts with blue pants!!!!!!! Wearing a green top with blue pants, I am walking with my husband along a quiet concourse at 6:00 AM on Saturday morning. Quiet though it may be, I squirm under the critical scrutiny of a thousand eyes. Could I have counted wrong? Are there ten thousand eyes, twenty maybe? “Stop a moment,” I say. “I’ll button up my sweater.” The blue sweater now pulls tightly across my front. Only a thin green line shows above. “But we’re going through Security,” he says. “We usually take sweaters off.” “I’ll wear the look of a woman who has nothing to hide,” I declare. At 6:08 AM, wearing the look of a woman who has nothing to hide, assuring the screener that I am carrying no liquids, I try to remember whether, on past trips, I have ever been subjected to a lie detector test. That’s what gets me thinking about past trips. This particular trip is a short trip, all trips considered, only a couple of days. We’ll be home before we notice ourselves gone. I didn’t give its preparation a lot of thought. Maybe that explains why I am wearing a green top with blue pants. Maybe that explains why I didn’t dream the dream I often dream before I take a trip. Here is the dream I didn’t dream. I am at the airport, standing in a line. My ticket is in my hand, my suitcase has hit the conveyer belt. I shiver a little. It is cold in here, and I am naked. Naked? I am naked? Oh no! What should I do? Crouching forward, my right arm stretched across my breasts, my left arm shielding lower parts, the back end fending for itself, I try to think. Should I go home now, leave my suitcase and go home? How could I go home? A naked person can hardly find a service clerk and ask to hail a cab. Shall I simply go on, pretend I don’t know I am naked? People might buy that. They think the blind have no idea what they are wearing. And so it goes, on and on, fussing, figuring, dithering, indecision for as long as it takes for me to wake up. The dream I have so often dreamed, the dream I didn’t dream for this trip, never ends. I never find out what happens next, never have the luxury of making the choice. But on this particular morning, things move along. At 6:13 AM, on the other side of Security, touching the thin green strip along my neck, in that liberated space where we are again allowed to carry liquids, I reach a decision. I have decided not to hate this man. It is, after all is said and done, very early, and I do usually dress myself without incident. Our little trip is so short that it seems a shame to waste any of it hating someone. And ultimately, perhaps the most important thing of all, I actually got a chance to live a milder-and-more-comprehensive version of that tiresome old dream. It’s nice to know it ended well.

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