I’m on an airplane.
I have a mask on my face.
A person is missing from the middle seat in every row. Rules.
My companion, one seat away, is a young black woman.
She has the same kind of mask as me. Cool. I bet she’s 24.
I want to move over and sit next to her. I have an overwhelming desire to hug her.
I can see only her hair sticking out. Blue hoodie. Zipped up.
Her hands. Playing a video game. She doesn’t stop. She’s going to play the whole flight.
She’ll think I’m crazy.
When she sat down I said hey.
She sanitized her hands, wiped down her arm rests, seat belt, cell phone.
She really does not want my hug.
I wonder where she’s going. I wonder if either of us will catch the virus on this plane.
I’m going home. I feel safe. Will she be safe?
I don’t know. I want to talk to her. I want to be her. I want to know.
When I was little, if we saw a black person walking down the street my dad would lock the car doors. Windows up.
My mom was the Brownie troop leader. She let Leticia Jackson in. She let a Hispanic girl in, too. So the other moms made a new, all white Brownie troop. Rules. We called them the silver spoons. I had play dates with Leticia at her apartment. I didn’t know there was a club and I wasn’t in it.
In college, the black girls had their own sorority. Was it just one? Or did they have a few? Did they rush each other? Scream and jump up and down if they liked you? I don’t know.
I was taught to not know you. Were you taught to not know me, too? Maybe you can feel me. Soul to soul. Right now. I want to pull down your hoodie and kiss your head.
I see you. I’m sorry.
I’ll never know what it’s like to be you.
My husband said when we land he may not be able to get downtown to the airport because of the protest.
Want to go together? Are you mad? I’ll stand in front of you.
You probably think I’m ridiculous. And white. And blonde. And wealthy. And old. I know.
Oh, you stopped! You just looked at me!
I saw your eyes. You saw mine.
I said I see you.
I said I love you.
I said stay safe.
I said I’m sorry.
I’m sorry about this one stupid seat.