I am very pleased to announce that I will soon be joining the staff of the Ayn Rand Institute as their Writer and Research Coordinator. I will be responsible for writing Impact, the newsletter distributed to ARI contributers, and helping fact check op-eds and other writings distributed through ARI.
I’m not sure I can effectively describe how excited I am by this opportunity. For the first time in my life, I will be making my living as a writer, which has always been my goal. And I will be doing so working at the place I’ve dreamed of working since I was fifteen and first became an Objectivist. The most I can say is that my benevolent universe premise has been confirmed in the most extraordinary way…this is life as it might be and ought to be.
This Thursday, I will be jumping in my car and leaving D.C., along with my best friend, David Rehm. We’re setting sail for Colorado, where I’ll be spending the weekend with Diana, enjoying the Objectivist law conference, after which I will be driving to Irvine. It reminds me of a book I started but never finished:
I leave a note. It’s the least I can do. It doesn’t say where I’m going. Just that I’m gone.
The cab driver is white – who knew white guys were even allowed to drive cabs? He shows up late. The sun is starting to rise by the time we leave, and I tell him to slam the gas so I will not miss my flight. Less than an hour later, I’m at BWI airport. It has to be a record.
“Twenty,” he says.
I open my backpack and throw him a fifty. “Keep the change.” He looks at the bag and eyes me suspiciously. “I didn’t steal it,” I say.
“Didn’t say you did.”
“Just don’t think it’s a good idea to take a bag of cash to the airport.”
I shut the door without a word, check my suitcase, and hustle to my gate. I haven’t missed my flight – it’s been delayed. I buy a Coke, a copy of USA Today, and settle in beside a grumpy fat man who I’m sure has been sitting here for days.
“They won’t let you on the plane if you’re drunk,” he says, his breath reeking of rotten bourbon.
“They got me once already. But this time I’m ready for them.” He smiles a dirty smile, looks around to make sure no one is watching, and pulls something out of his pocket. “I’ve got a mint.” He holds up a single Tic Tac.
“Good luck with that,” I say.
The flight is ready to board, which is good because another minute beside Mint Man and I’m going to be drunk. They call first class first. They always call first class first. I’m riding first class.
A skinny girl with a fake smile looks at my ticket and looks at me. I know what she’s thinking. I don’t look first class. Hell, I don’t look business class. Probably I look like cargo. “I don’t have a mint,” I say, thinking that might be the problem.
“Excuse me?” she says.
She waves me through and I sit down at the back of the first class section. When I was a kid, I always wanted the window seat. I’ve learned my lesson. My bladder is small and I always have to pee. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a window seat when the stranger next to you is asleep and you really have to pee. I guess you could use the vomit bags, but I get stage fright, so now I make sure to always get an aisle seat.
The seat is comfortable. It better be, right? I try to recline, but even in first class you don’t recline so much as tilt slightly. So I tilt. It helps.
“Eight C. Eight C. Oh, eight C.” A woman who’s probably thirty smiles at me and I stand up so she can take the window seat. I hope she won’t have to pee. “This is my first time in first class,” she says.
She looks like a bird. Not an ugly bird. I mean, she’s pretty. But still, she has bird-like features. Tight skin and a pointy nose and half a mouth. Good hair though.
“I’m Phoebe,” she says. “It means ‘shining one.’”
“I’m Ethan Allen,” I say.
“Like the revolutionary?”
“Like the furnishing store, I think.”
She laughs. It’s a good laugh. Light and airy. Too many girls have these weird giggles that make me squirm. I dated one girl who thought she sounded stupid when she laughed so she always tried to stifle it. It never worked – it would come out as an annoying snort. It’s a good thing I’m not funny. We wouldn’t have made it more than a week. Then again, we only lasted two weeks.
“Is this your first time in first class?” she says.
“I guess it would be. You look young.”
“I’m twenty-two,” I say, a bit incredulous.
“I’m sorry,” she says. “That probably sounded condescending. I didn’t mean it that way.”
I wish she would shut up. I don’t mind being social, I really don’t. But I’m preoccupied. Everything is about to change and I want to be there when it does. Too many times I’ve missed out on important moments in my life. I don’t want to miss this one. When the wheels leave the ground, that’s when my life ends. I don’t need bird girl taking that away from me.
“You should see this,” Phoebe says, looking out the window. “The water looks so peaceful.”
“I hate water,” I say.
“It’s beautiful. Everything is so tiny.”
“Not really,” I say. “It just looks that way because we’re up so high.” It’s an hour into the flight so it’s okay Phoebe wants to talk.
“How long are you staying?” Phoebe says.
Her brow furrows. “You don’t know when you’re coming back?”
“That’s interesting,” she says. Really I don’t think she thinks it’s interesting. Probably she thinks it’s weird. But she’s nice, even though she’s bird girl. She doesn’t want to offend me by saying anything.
“Are you single?” I say, thinking Phoebe is cute so it’s worth asking.
“So you’re single.”
She thinks for a second. “Yeah, I guess I am.” She laughs. “That’s funny. It’s been a year since my divorce and I haven’t thought about it that way. I just keep thinking ‘I’m divorced. I’m divorced.’”
“Do you always think it twice?”
She looks at me funny. “I’m not sure how to take that. Should I laugh or be offended?”
“You can laugh.” She doesn’t laugh.
The flight is almost over. I can tell because the captain says so. He tells us to buckle up. Phoebe ignores him. She must be suicidal.
We land and Phoebe and I get off the plane without saying goodbye.
Now it starts. Here begins my new life. As my foot touches down fromt he ladder to the runway, I sense the possibility of a new world – after this, things will never be the same.
“Hello,” a smiling man says. “Welcome to Cancun.”
Anyway, I’m headed west, and I couldn’t be more excited. However, I do want to stress one thing. Although I will be working for ARI, I do not speak for them. When I blog here, I will be speaking only for myself: not for ARI, for Objectivism, nor even for Diana.
That said, congrats to me.