Dueling Memories: Seattle Airport Security

One of the best parts of sharing memories with someone is the enjoyment that comes from discovering the different perspectives you have about the common memory. With that in mind, I’ve decided to start a series called Dueling Memories where I share a one-sentence memory with someone and then provide three prompts for us to each answer. We then bring our notes together and view the shared memory through our unique perspectives.

The memory: Going through security at the Seattle Airport. The participants: My mother and myself. Oh, this should be good.

What was the setting?

Mom: After going to a diner for breakfast, Goodwill for a larger suitcase, and Starbucks so Danny could become extremely stressed out in a last-minute attempt to fix my computer, we arrived at the Seattle airport. We were about to part, Danny flying back to Ohio and I to New York. I was anticipating blowing quickly through security, saying goodbye to Danny, and then waiting alone in the airport for six hours because his flight left earlier than mine. But the security line was extremely long, and as usual something or other in my pocket set off an alarm so I had to go through the giant x-ray machine.

Me: Mom and I were concluding our Washington State trip and were at the Seattle airport preparing to go through security. I was flying home to Ohio while Mom was flying back to New York, so security was one of our last chances to spend time together before ending a nearly perfect trip. Having traveled quite a bit for work, I was used to airport security lines and didn’t think much of going through Seattle’s. That is until we got to the line. It felt like the last bound-for-space flight out of a dying earth with how packed and tense the security area was. The line moved at a glacial pace, and I kept thinking we would miss our flights. Well, I would think that before reasoning that our six-hour early arrival to the airport would keep that from happening.

What emotion did you feel at that time?

Mom: It was a mixture of happiness because of the wonderful memories we had made but also sadness because I didn’t know when I would see Danny next. Add to that the stress of getting on an airplane…I have a mild phobia of them and was dreading it.

Me: Stress. Again, we had more than enough time to make it through the line and still get to our gates, but the whole civil unrest vibe of those around us was a little off-putting.

What makes it unforgettable?

Mom: What makes it unforgettable is what happened when the security guard went through my luggage and then waved me aside so he could examine it more thoroughly. For me, the highlight of our trip was walking on La Push Beach. After climbing a mountain of fallen trees (with help from Danny) I started to collect stones and shells for my grandchildren. The wind was blowing wildly and my hair kept getting in my face, making me laugh hysterically as Danny filmed me picking up shells and pretty rocks while talking to my grandchildren via FaceTime. I kept shoving them into Danny’s hands as my own were quickly filled. Needless to say, he was not happy about having to carry a bunch of dirty shells.

The incredulous look on the guard’s face as he took out the rocks and shells and debated whether I was going to use them for weapons was priceless. I started talking about my grandchildren and my wonderful trip to the beach, so he quickly loaded them up as he decided I was strange but harmless. My son of course was thoroughly embarrassed, but he is used to these kinds of episodes and got through it okay.

Me: If not for what I’m about to share, this would just be another airport rant destined for a bad stand up comedy routine, but my Mom ensured this moment would be burned in my mind forever. Upon arriving at the TSA checkpoint where you send your carry-on bag through the scanner, it was discovered that Mom had packed an unearthly amount of stones and shells from our incredible time at La Push Beach (yay Twilight). I think that the alarmingly large amount of beach paraphernalia led the TSA agents to believe that she was some sort of hippy terrorist because they pulled her bag from the belt and prompted her to step aside for it to be thoroughly searched.

I watched with a mixture of horror and embarrassment and did my best to pretend I didn’t know her (I know, I know, I’m a terrible son). Thankfully, after swabbing every stone and shell for bomb residue, they relinquished her bag so we could head to our gates. As I’ve learned from travel with my Mom, it’s never a dull moment, and I cannot wait for the next unforgettable trip we take.

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A photo from the infamous beach whose shells started it all…

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