I slowly placed my bags through the x-ray machine, hoping I had removed anything that could be perceived as a weapon. I then hold my breath and walk through the metal detector, a habit from the many times I unintentionally set it off in the past. The DJO is paged over the intercom and I’m then escorted through the waiting room. I wait for the click to signal I can walk through. I adjust my strategically placed scarf (I was a little cocky thinking I could eat in the car) and shift from foot to foot, while I patiently wait for the click.
I’m not sure what waits for me on the other side, but I anxiously wait.
Once I’m ushered through the door, I see her sitting, waiting for me in a box-like, cinder block room on a flimsy, plastic, red chair. She’s hunched over the table. We’re both apprehensive and we recognize it in one another.
The introductions are made and door closes behind me. We’re two strangers, yet the expectation is that she’ll share intimate details with me of her life as a run away.
She looks up at me and I instantly like her. She’s tough but with a baby face. And, her hair sticks up in all directions held out of her face with a small headband. We attempt small talk, but quickly realize we both prefer to just be straight with one another.
Within minutes, we were laughing.
And then she would disclose something.
Then we’d laugh again. The cycle went on and on, she’d disclose, then joke, and then back again.
I was struck by the dichotomy in front of me. I was suddenly aware that the young woman setting across the table from me was caught between being a completely, innocent kid one moment and that innocence being completely stolen the next. I listened to stories that were hard to hear, but recognized the importance of her getting to tell it. I watched as bit by bit she was getting her voice back, and although it was hard to hear it was beautiful to watch.
Our time was up, but as I as I was waiting to hear the click of the door, I left knowing I would get to see her again; and knowing that I was going to grow as much she does.