When the heat wave set records in Albuquerque by 6am, I sat in my closet and called my disaster friend in Chicago. She listened, murmured yes yes, sent an air hug, said we’re all in this together as I knew she would. She told me to get on a plane, to come to Chicago. We can wait it out together like the early pandemic days in Brooklyn when those first two weeks felt like the summer vacations of our youth — trembling with freedom, oozing with time. I told her I’d think about it: a lie. I made a promise to myself to never get on a plane again, to bike to work, to carry a reusable cup, to eat less meat. On my flight to New Mexico, we made our descent at midnight. In silence, my two seatmates and I leaned toward the window, keeping a respectful distance, breathing shallowly, watching the lights of civilization below us glow like firing neurons. Slowly we erased our distance with the earth, and with a jolt, put our feet upon the ground. (Did they feel it too? The waves of gratitude and sadness?) In the car on the drive home, I had to look beyond my own reflection in the window to see the stars. It is my superpower — how I accept this truth more easily than others: I will always be in my own way.
Megan Rilkoff is a writer and former educator who lives in Maine. Her work has been published in The Emerson Review, Wild Roof Journal, Emerald City, and Passengers Journal among others. You can find her on Instagram @_rilks.