You smell like airports and all things safe. 

Back in November, my mom’s anxiety had flared up again. A lot of late nights, learning patience, skipping class to pick my sister up from school because my parents were in the hospital. 

When the storm cleared, and the skies went back to a calm grey, my mom and I did a lot of researching and talking about what anxiety is and everyday ways to fight it– I’d screenshot anti-anxiety exercises on Instagram and she’d send me thought provoking quotes or blogs. 
One of the techniques we found was this concept of actively looking for good, tangible things in the space around us, focusing on them, and counting. 

Well, I don’t look or count– I close my eyes: I’m shifting my weight from hip to hip, riding an escalator. It smells like conference rooms and missed connections, breath mints and window cleaner, heavy hospital air and freshly cleaned pillow cases straight out of their plastic wrapping, people running and people trying to get back. My feet are trying to fit on the same step as my luggage. When the teethy steps in front of me get swallowed up back into the escalators rotation cycle to pick up new travelers, I look up– searching strangers’ faces to try and find you. Shuffling through my coat pockets, I’m trying to find my phone to call you. I turn the corner, and there you are staring at my name on your phone. I hang up, you look up, and I’m running for you. Your arms spread wide open as you push off the column you were leaning against. You’re smiling ear to ear, and I throw myself into you. 

And this is what’s tangible, this is what I focus on, this is what my mind reaches for; when I can’t make sense of things, when it hurts like hell, when I convince myself into living in lies, when my knees shake, when I can’t sleep, when I sit in my car for too long and it’s hard to breathe– this is what keeps me grounded. 

So when I read something I don’t want to read or something doesn’t turn out the way I planned and my palms get sweaty and I feel my heart beating in my chest— I’m right back there, at that airport, in that moment.

You’re where my mind goes running when it’s flooded and drowned by the murk. 

I smile, breathe, remember, open my eyes, and keep going. 


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