Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

The captain has turned off the fasten seatbelt sign…

I have had a hard week of little sleep and strange food.  I dragged my feet all day secretly hoping to miss my flight back to SFO, all too keenly aware of how much I didn’t want to be there.  I replayed the Talk I had with my partner around the edges of sleep the night before over and over in my head.  The sentences I let trail off, where his body tensed betraying his display of casual interest.  The way he made me feel included in a secret cabal that I suspect already suffers from too many kids trying to look cool but lacking the skills to carry the work.  I wonder if we are useful then in adding noise to the system.

To my dismay I got to the airport early, but was choking back tears by the time I got to the ticket counter.  The ticket agent asked if I was ok, but printed my boarding pass anyway.  She spoke slowly, gently explaining my gate number, “29, behind me and to the right.”  By the time I got to security, I was losing it.  Not about anything in particular yet, just a general sort of falling apart.  And then I got to the gentleman who had positioned himself in the now defunct metal detector.  As he directed me to the full body scan, I panicked…I forgot the special thing I was supposed to say, the one he’s not supposed to question, the one that leads him to echo back “opt out, female assist” as though it was some kind of religious call and response.  So I looked confused briefly, offering finally “I’d like to decline, what do I have to say?”  “Say whatever you want.” He directed me to an area on the side and proceeded to other people.  As I watch my fellow Americans step through, feet apart, hands over their heads, one by one; as I waited for someone to call a female assist, I lost it.  It was not the TSA’s fault, and this is not a process I have ever found upsetting before, but after some pretty hard conversations about my country, and after a pretty hard week overall, I couldn’t do it.  I bit my tongue as I considered stepping through the scan, wondered why no one had called for the pat-down lady, and consoled myself with the idea of missing my flight.  I felt alone.  I wanted to recite the constitution, or ask the guy if he felt safe around those machines, but didn’t.  And then another man came – calm, collected, cocky even.  He stood next to me with the words “no need to cry, this is your right.”  And all of a sudden it wasn’t just me, I wasn’t just a trouble maker, I was an American doing the all-American thing of standing up for my rights.  I wasn’t in trouble anymore, just like that I was an annoyed customer again.  And the man next to me proclaiming “I ain’t going near that thing.” As though it was a dirty cafeteria restroom.  And suddenly the security guy stepped back calling out “Opt out, female assist, male assist, 5 and 6.” Clearly, loudly, calmly.

As we stood there a woman came by ready to take her turn in the scan, and stopped next to me, it seemed like she was waiting for me to go first.  I told her I had opted out, so she asked, and I told her, and she stood there so the man told her she had to tell the guard if she wanted to opt out…she was doing that as a nice black lady took me through the security procedure, carefully making eye contact and explaining what she was going to do, gently walking me through the process, and just like that it was over.  I put on my shoes, plugged my phone in, and called C sobbing to ask him to come get me in 6 hours from the other side of the country.  I was amazed that they let me through, though later I realized that I am small, and female, and white.  I am well dressed and well groomed and therefore I am allowed to cry in public spaces, and when I do so people will come to help me because they were told that’s what they are meant to do.  I realized that just before I realized that this is privilege and it is a tool and a crutch, and maybe it is one of those things you do to survive when you’ve run out of other options – use the oldest tricks in the book.

My heart sank as I realized I had left my connection to the part of me I had just found on the East Coast, but then I wondered if radicalizing moments were like super hero awakenings, half traumatic and yet utterly mundane.

Written by kinkinexile

January 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm

2 Responses

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  1. > but then I wondered if radicalizing moments were like super hero awakenings, half
    > traumatic and yet utterly mundane.

    * nodding * This sounds so familiar. And you lose the thread, and you find it again, and you lose it again, and you find it again, and every time you find it again you ask yourself how on earth you ever could’ve forgotten…and then you find yourself in another survival situation and it all slips…

    Glad to hear you made it home okay. 🙂


    January 17, 2012 at 12:35 am

  2. I think what I’ve learned far too slowly is that, when we assert our rights, we are never alone, even if we have to assert them by ourselves, first.

    I’m glad you got home okay and I hope you catch up on the sleep you need. 🙂


    January 17, 2012 at 10:37 am

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