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Los Angeles MAG
I was never too familiar with airports, with their busy-body feel and musky smell of black luggage. Every wall reeked of being clean and fresh, even through the bustling lives of families and tourists, which never ceased to amaze me.
I wish I flew more often. I once went to California with my family to visit my sister, who had just graduated college and was basking beneath palm trees in Los Angeles.
It had been a year since we last saw her.
My other sister, my mother, and I followed our father through the airport. I was scared, truthfully, having not flown since September 11.
I liked the food on our six-hour flight. The movies were mediocre but the view was breathtaking. Arriving, we rented a car and drove to my sister’s office building.
There was a bad smell in the air.
She was emaciated with sagging skin, a collection of light bones. I wanted to hug her. As a child, she’d been my pillow. She was beautiful. Now, she had lost something. She looked different, and I couldn’t help but cry.
Anorexia did cross my mind, of course, but I was quiet that whole week.
My parents and other sister noticed, too. We mentioned it lightly, but she simply ate the words and coughed them back up, back into us.
The week passed quickly and I still couldn’t recognize my sister. Not only had her features morphed into some foreign face, but her personality had changed, too. Maybe it was just in my mind. Seeing the face of a woman I knew but didn’t recognize, it didn’t fit the personality I had known for 16 years. Her personality had to change, you see, in order for me to convince myself that my sister must be somewhere, anywhere, and that I would find her hidden beneath, let’s say, her very own bones.
Then it was the last night, and we were crammed into our stuffy hotel room. My sister joined us. It’s hard to recall what happened, or the sequence of events, the tears and family secrets that led to the most emotionally charged night of my youth.
My sister had an eating disorder, yes. I cried first. My other sister started crying too, and when the anorexic one spoke to defend herself, I heard her voice quivering and I understood. My mother cried, and my father stared.
This is where the story stays with me and my family, where even anonymity cannot be used as protection. Some secrets are too holy to be tampered with; they can only be truly understood by those who are physically and mentally a part of you.
I love my family and have never doubted that.
Our lives do resemble those of tourists. Bustling in our own airports, we still manage to keep to ourselves.