To my relief, the electronic monitors at O'Hare have no abnormalities to report. There's just enough time to grab a salad from one of the vendors on the walk between Terminals H and G, call D to let him know all is well, and fall into line at my connecting gate.
I am, short of my footwear, dressed for the evening reception we'll be heading to directly from the airport -- no time to change -- so I'm careful as I poke my fork into the chicken and greens in my lap, wary of wayward dressing drips. Though I would have preferred one of my favorite dresses, a soft silk whose pattern reminds me of thin washes of gray ink with occasional streaks of butter-yellow watercolor, I've opted for darker wool slacks and a pink paisley blouse. Still pretty, but slightly less feminine -- at least, as it feels to me. But I guess that's the point: in pants, I can stride, even run if I have to, without having to worry that my skirt has rotated or hiked itself into unladylike territory.
As I eat, I make note of the things I have to do when I land: call family, find bathroom, apply makeup, change sneakers to heels, unpack purse from luggage, transfer wallet and phone. The makeup and purse are already within easy reach toward the top of the items in my backpack, the shoes at one end of my suitcase. The heels are low in case I have a lot of walking to do with the heavy bags. I am, if nothing else, extremely practical.
I know, though, that my mother and sisters will all be in dresses tonight, that this will bother me even though I resist the feeling adamantly. This -- blouse, slacks -- is what is comfortable for me on this 2,500-mile travel day, and yet, in their company, it will leave me not ill at ease but something like it. As if my lack of willingness to do as they would -- just wear the dress -- is indicative of some personal deficit in the quality all Troubadour women ought to have, a tolerance for inconvenience in the name of feeling our outward best.
I picture the gritty airport bathroom stalls at my final destination, the acrobatics of changing in that narrow space with luggage to boot, and I know I will feel anything but my best -- inside or out -- after attempting a transformation there. I'll be meeting my sister's doctor colleagues and doctor professors, whom I'm mildly intimidated by, at this evening's reception, and I'd prefer not to be fighting a case of the cranks after playing public restroom Twister. So, gaping toilet? Questionably sanitary walls on which to hang so many dry-clean-only garments? Given my choices, I'd rather feel the needling sadness of being conflicted over how I look, sadness that I can't just be confident in this fairly inconsequential decision, rather than feeling certain frustration with trying to be more than I'm able. Just for today, anyway.
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