“Panic Attacks”

Queen Alia Airport Amman

The opening scenes of my memoir-in-progress, a short piece called “Panic Attacks,” appears in the “States of La Frontera” issue of pacificREVIEW, the literary magazine of the Department of English & Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. The theme of the issue is “an interdisciplinary, intersectional collection of work that grapples with the concept and image of “borders” as existing in multiple contexts.”

“Panic Attacks” isn’t an easy story for me to tell; it remains an embarrassing reminder of how we can all succumb to groupthink and fear.

I was adrift and overwhelmed. I felt my heart beat faster, my breath come shorter. It was poorly lit in the airport pre-renovation, contributing to my exhausted confusion. I followed Catherine, a tall blonde Trainee radiating the confidence—or stoic bravado—that I had lost by relinquishing our visa….

The porters wanted to push my cart through customs for me, but I didn’t have any Jordanian currency for the tip I was sure they would demand. All I could do was hold up my hand and say, “La, shukran! La, shukran,” over and over. “No, thank you!” It was a mantra I recited ever faster and more adamantly….

Read about my faltering first steps in Jordan in the “States of La Frontera” issue of pacificREVIEW, with a friends and family discount just for you available here.

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