There is nothing like the possibility of a divorce to kill your heart and your looks. Haggard, underfed, pale and equipped with a pair of raccoon eyes was my fashion statement last Spring. I was 20 years too late and sported it without even the pleasure of getting high. Go figure.
My antidote to any sad state of affairs, the one that makes me regain some confidence is the “runway strut”. There is nothing more liberating, invigorating and confidence building than strutting inside an airport terminal, any airport, with an e-ticket to no matter where. You can become anybody, you can choose to socialize or clam up with a book or a laptop, you can pretend you are flying to Java even if you are only hopping to San Francisco. Who’s to know?
The heaviness in your heart is lifted by the infinite possibilities of that blackboard to everywhere, by the fantasy you are free to embroider upon while safe in the cocoon of air travel. There was a time, before cell phones and laptops and phones on board, when one was forced to give up contact with the rest of the world – it was mandatory to go in, cuddle up with oneself and a bunch of mindless movies or else check out with Seconal and whiskey. But even now, when the suave voice of the stewardess with too much make up comes on to tell you it’s time to switch off all your electronic devices, there is a measure of resignation that sets in. You are in the hands of the man (rarely a woman) at the helm and for a few hours all obsessions and fears pretend to vanish. And at the other end, you can become whoever you need to become.
My favourite and most helpful persona is the fierce warrior, a throwback to Boadicea and her flowing mane, legs solidly wrapped around her horse and sword in hand on the way to battle. I have no flowing mane, horse or sword but the spirit lives on. It’s the spirit that lifts me up from the black hole of self-pity into which I sometimes fall, especially if I start thinking about the unknown of the rest of my life. I haven’t entered the uncharted waters of a love that I always believed to be indestructible – instead, it destroyed me and gave me raccoon eyes. In my endless vanity, it’s the raccoon eyes I resent the most.
Still, when I am at the lowest of the low, the warrior spirit will visit me. I am driving around a Silicon Valley neighbourhood, trying to find my way without a map and I succeed and feel so proud of not having ended up in Seattle. I am teaching a pair of young African girls how to make chocolate truffles and the smiles of wonderment they gift me with fills my day. A pair of mating penguins on a far away beach restores my laughter. A job well done, a Saturday spent at Half Moon Bay mulling over the possibility of moving there, it’s mastering apparently unconquerable freeways. It’s called freedom.
Should Cupid ever decide to be stingy or feels I already had my share, the warrior spirit will still be there to accompany in my travels.