The plane is full and my carryon made it.  I feel good.

“Pardon my smelly fries,” says the window.  “Did you see where my fork went?” asks the aisle.  I pluck pretzel pellets out of a bag like a hostage bound at the elbows and try not to breathe while I politely acknowledge their existence.  But it’s like a vinegar bomb has gone off on both sides of me and vinegar — odd as it may sound — makes my stomach queasy.  I feel bad. 

So I open my book, turning the pages beneath the vinegar cloud, and now — I feel good. 

How I feel is important to me. 

The woman on the aisle tells me she’s a former oncology nurse who has her own business.  It’s in health, she begins, adding that it has to do with a device that measures antioxident levels in the body. 

A market so dedicated to antioxident regimens that they actually go to the doctor to measure this?  Tell me more. 

“Well it’s not really the medical community — actually it’s part of a line of products we sell — do you know what a galvanic treatment is?”

“Huh?”

“A wrinkle iron?”

Pardon my smelly fries.  This is not about feeling good.  It’s about — looking good.

She begins to trace the path the wrinkle iron takes over her face and body, mentioning her age — 53 — as the tour concludes in the upper arm region.  I admit, she’s got me by the brow lines for a minute.  Hell, believing in magic wands is mighty tempting when it comes to certain signs of aging.  Case in point, that devil of a groove on the right side of my chin that tells the world I set my jaw too hard when I think — and then there’s — and of course, that — and surely it wouldn’t be too much to ask —

I mean, once you start, where do you stop?  

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against looking good.  It just scares the hell out of me to imagine a world filled with people who care more about how they look than how they feel.   Where masks are preferred over bare faces — and everything falls apart when they come off.

Setting my jaw, I renew my faith in something my mom started telling me long before she saw her first wrinkle.

“It’s what’s inside that counts.”

My art flows from the patterns & paths of my lived experience which ⏤ like yours ⏤ are at once deeply personal and entirely universal.

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