Sharon is an Asian-American content creator based in Austin.


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To Send and Receive Well

One evening in college, I was returning by plane back into Austin. Per the custom, once the plane landed, people scrambled to turn off their airplane mode in anticipation of texts from bae's or to notify rides that they've arrived.

This evening, I either forgot to contact someone beforehand (possibly likely) or the original ride had fallen through. I don't remember that particular detail, but I do, however, remember not having anyone to pick me up.

Any independent individual today would have taken an Uber, gotten Shake Shack, and called it a day. This, however, was a different evening and a past era. A cab didn't strike me as an option, a bus didn't seem time efficient, and most of my close friends that came to mind that day were unavailable: out of town, busy with plans, or likely, it was too late to ask them without it coming across as anything but an afterthought or last resort.

I ended up calling a friend from college whose place we'd visit on the weekends for parties, and he surprisingly happened to be free. As he drove me back to my place, he asked me no questions. I don’t even remember what we talked about: the weather, where I came back from, what he’d been up to?

I reflect on what I had realized in that car: that there were very few people that I would ask to pick me up from the airport. In fact, few people I would have trusted at that time to take me to the airport. As a relatively friendly someone with a reasonable number of acquaintances, I remember the feeling of friendlessness and need, yet, pride and stubborn independence. I didn't want to rely on others. I was surprised that a person that I'd ask and allow to drive me home would have be one I needed to trust to not judge me.

Because of that day, I think of what the airport ride home could indicate: who's in your life, the commitments you've made, whom you trust, the kind of people you really want around you, if you don't mind wandering home, your resources, your sense of obligation about any kind of reimbursement, the ease with which you organize your life in relation to others, or even how much you prize your independence. It can especially reveal if you feel bad asking for favors, if you ask liberally, or if you don't ask anyone for anything.

I don't remember how I thanked him; I probably bought him a measly beer the next time we saw each other. He’s since moved and maybe doesn't even remember, but there's no way he could have known how good it felt, for someone who hated asking, to ask and receive a favor.

That being said, the airport ride home where we essentially “re-enter” culture and return to the day-to-day that we’re blessed to have will always be special to me. I think of how a good friend of mine adores airplane rides because the most special things happen on them. It makes sense to send and receive well to try to give others the right bookends.

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