By Elder Zamora
for Deborah Gould
In three days Shama will be on an airplane.
I bring her around the bookshop to find something to keep her occupied during the half a dozen or so states that she’ll be flying over. Boring states that become almost indistinguishable from 20,000 feet.
When we get ready to leave the store Deborah comes out from behind the counter, from behind paper work and things that are important, from stacks of neatly laid out receipts and paperbacks that need cataloguing, from phone calls that need to be returned and a lunch that should have been eaten a half hour ago, but who has time? She comes around to hug us goodbye.
From her pocket comes a dollar bill which her fingers have made flat and smooth. Gingerly folded in half, she slips it into my girlfriend’s hand.
She says that this is “insurance”. That in the Jewish way, she is to hold on to the dollar, keep it safe for when she’s reached where she’s going and pass it on to some needy soul. Insurance that one’s trip has a purpose beyond the mundane. A mission so sacred that even the pockets of warm air encircling Denver international (where she has a connection) will have to humble themselves, and pay respect to it. Insurance.
That evening, having a smoke in the balcony, looking up at the passenger jets overhead, I think of that word and of how nice it would be if every trip began in such a way. So that next month when I drive to San Diego for my cousin’s wedding, or when I can’t sleep and take a drive at 1 AM because it’s hot and the cool air feels wonderful, I can allow myself to enjoy every purpose filled bit of it.
How nice it would be if insurance did not mean premiums or deductibles or adjustments, but the way a woman’s smiles after she’s kissed you goodbye at LAX, the way that her hand lingers in yours. The way those same fingers will trace the neatly folded bill tucked into her sweater pocket, as she almost fails to notice the rocky mountains strolling by just below.