All of the seats in the waiting area are taken so I sit on the floor near the garbage cans. But then a man in shorts and a cowboy hat walks by and says, “Road block!!”
He was talking to his wife. But still, I get up.
The flight at the next gate is leaving for Mazatlán. I think about trying to sneak on. What if I landed there, instead of Seattle? Would J. really miss me at his wedding?
We are old friends. We tried to run a half marathon together once, but my stomach rebelled and I started to feel sick two miles in. He told me very gently that I looked green. I went and threw up behind a tree, let him go on without me. He used to give me grief every time he called me in San Francisco because I would be listening to some terrible Ludacris song in the car. “What is with the gangsta rap?” he would yell while I turned it down. Now, I am flying to see him marry a woman I have never met.
Next to me in the waiting area, a group of couples exchange hugs. All three wives are thin and blond and already dressed for Mazatlán. White pants. A sleeveless black dress. The skinniest of the three carries a purse decorated with a pattern of white ropes and nautical knots. The zipper pull is a leather sailboat with a silver anchor. She is talking on her iPhone. She does not get off the phone to hug her friends.
Another woman rushes by wearing a crocheted purple shawl. The shawl catches on the silver anchor of Mazatlán’s purse. The two women swat at themselves. Let go! A long, thin purple loop extends, pulls taught.
The woman in the shawl sees she has been hooked. She finds this tremendously funny. “It’s an anchor! What are you, fishing? I’m caught!” She dissolves into giggles. She tugs and tugs, laughing.
Mazatlan’s face shows no reaction. She looks at the other woman’s face with empty eyes. “No, I don’t know him,” she says into her phone. The thread gets longer, tighter.
“Let me help you,” I tell them. I have to put my coffee down on my suitcase to free up both hands. The yarn is well and truly snagged, doubled over the tooth at the tip of the anchor. I can’t help it. It makes me think of the barbed penises of dolphins and cats. Now both purple shawl and I are giggling.
Finally, I disentangle them. “You’re free!” I say. For a second, she fingers the distorted loop of yarn, the hole that it leaves near her elbow. “Thank you,” she says, and hurries to catch her plane.
Mazatlán has already turned back to her friends. She does not seem to feel responsible for the behavior of her purse. She is still on the phone.
I want to go to Mazatlán, and not care.
Just rip my way through.