For this holiday season, I went to visit family. It was wonderful, but I think my favorite part was the flight home.
When I staggered onto the plane, hunching over with the weight of my carry-on luggage (I'm rather short, so it's hard to get it into the overhead bins), I was customarily greeted by a flight attendant. Feeling in a good mood, I smiled and nodded at him. He said, "Good afternoon, ma'am," back to me. As the line moved along the aisle of the plane, he must have caught sight of my pentacle necklace and said, "Blessed be," after me.
I would have returned it, except for one problem: I had no idea what he had said to me. It sounded like "Pasta pea" because of my hearing problem. So I just smiled again. I had a feeling that what he said was semi-important, but I just had no idea what the words had been.
It was a three-hour-long flight, and the moment I got to my seat, I realized that whatever the attendant had said sounded sort of like "Blessed be." I considered dismissing that notion - after all, what person would risk letting Public People know that they were a Pagan? After the ridicule I've endured (admittedly not much, but I've had a good enough taste of it to know how it can be), I doubted that that was what he had said.
When the plane landed, and I managed to get my bag out of the overhead bin without giving anyone brain damage, I exited the plane and decided that, since I was never going to see any of the surrounding people again, I would take a chance and assume that he said said "Blessed be" to me. When I passed the flight attendant as I disembarked, I smiled and said "Blessed be" to him, trying not to sound nervous.
He smiled and happily replied, "Blessed be!"
Those simple words made me so, so happy. They also made me realize something.
We don't have to hide anymore.
I know a lot of you have already discovered this, but I just realized it, myself. I realized that Pagans are everywhere, and when we find a fellow Pagan, we don't have to be discreet in greeting them.
Another thing I noticed? Nobody cared. Everyone heard (I know this because of my hearing problem: I'm excessively loud when I don't mean to be). Nobody glared, or said anything.
It was different from my Samhain trip to Salem. Then, everyone was greeting loudly because we were certain than a great many Pagans were around us. This man publicly greeted me as a Pagan, when the people around us (as far as we could see) had no specific religious identification. It was...magical. Eye-opening. I loved it. I've been smiling ever since.
And it also makes me feel less alone. While my family (and I'm sure many of yours) is comprised of Christians, the World is a vast place, and our fellow Pagans (and Pagan-friendly people) can pop up randomly, when we least expect it. They can even be flight attendants. :)
That flight attendant gives me hope. If, by some miracle, you're reading this, then I just have one thing to say to you: Thank you. I'm in therapy and taking medication for depression, and you made me genuinely smile for the first time in a long time. Oh, and I was the weirdo with the baggy anime T-shirt, rumpled hair, and glasses.