I did a bit of smuggling many years ago.
I was young, traveling through Asia, and running with a group of budget travelers. Someone knew this guy out of Hong Kong who would send you off with suitcases full of…well, things he didn’t want to carry. He told us that it was just ginseng, silk ties, gold… I wanted to believe him, but I wonder what else might have been in those suitcases. If we successfully got them through customs, our trips were paid for. Little two week trips, adventures. It was as if it were an option in a holiday package: I’ll take one trip with a mystery bag, please.
We were all white, the carriers, and had a sense of privilege and immortality. Not that we necessarily knew that then: it’s so easy not to notice your privilege in the moment. I just had this sense that everything was going to be okay. I’m not a religious person, but I am spiritual.
I wonder if there were angels watching over us—or maybe it was just whiteness.
I look back now and think that I was just … really, really stupid. I could have been in a prison for thirty plus years, been killed, disappeared, or….
And now? Now I’m a teacher. A mom. I drive a minivan. The only things I smuggle now are snacks into theaters.