When I was younger, I assumed nobody ever talked about me.
Case in point: Back in 2007, right after I bought my condo, I ran into an acquaintance, somehow who volunteered at the same place as I did, but at different times, and she expressed interest in seeing my new place. I was stunned, amazed that she’d even heard about it, as we hadn’t seen each other since well before I’d begun the process of buying.
She explained that she’d talked to one of the employees of the non-profit we were both linked to, who mentioned it, and my mind was even more blown. Why were they talking about me? What was so interesting? Why was I even on their radar?
Out of sight, out of mind.
We were in the car yesterday, discussing the futility of federal regulations in regards to a friend’s new job. Sure, it made sense for pilots’ downtime to be regulated, for them to have to get a certain amount of sleep, but flight attendants? When someone pointed out that the attendants are still responsible for passenger safety, for leading evacuations and such, we all sort of shrugged. The only successful example we could think of was the Miracle on the Hudson, an incident notable because it seemed so impossible.
From there, the conversation shifted to death in the skies, to how it’s not such a bad way to go. I spoke from a place of knowledge, at least as much as anyone ever can, explaining how I’d heard that experts had said the passengers on my father’s flight would have passed out almost instantly from the thin air rushing in to fill the void caused by explosive decompression.
In the back seat, the friend of a friend stuttered an expression of shock, and the driver explained about my family’s history in the briefest possible manner. Apologies floated to the front, and I told him it was fine, it was forever ago, and I thought he already knew, because doesn’t everybody? How could they not?
Doesn’t it always come up?
We were at the bar, playing Scattergories, and she expressed shock she was beating me. After all, she surmised, shouldn’t a writer be good at this?
But the thing about being a writer is, the words never come out of thin air. Thoughts bounce around and congeal into sentences, sometimes tweaked for alliteration or flow. Synonyms are easy. But there are only so many birds whose names start with F, and not everything is always at the front of one’s mind.