The time I said “EXPLODE” to homeland security

Written by hootenannie on December 14th, 2011

So there I was at the Denver airport, heaving my bulging black suitcase onto the conveyor belt for the x-ray machine. This was just my carry-on – my REAL bag (a behemoth red Samsonite) had already been found 6 lbs. overweight at the ticket counter, leading me to put on my boots and jacket, stuff my curling iron and jewelry into my purse, and relegate various items of detritus to my smaller suitcase.

As the carry-on inched toward the x-ray machine, the TSA agent observed the swollen vessel, and made a comment that he didn’t know that it would make it through the machine.

“I know!” I laughed. “It’s about to explode!”

And right then and there, all of the air was sucked out of Denver International Airport.

The silence coddled the word like an overindulgent mother.

Explode.

EXPLODE.

I literally clapped my hand over my mouth, realizing what I had done – and then I sprung into action.

“Haha, I mean explode with my stuff. My STUFF – nothing dangerous, nothing sharp. I mean, except for high heels! Haha!”

No one else was laughing.

“Ma’am, we’re going to need to take a look in your bag.”

I was led to a sterile table where a blue-gloved person (man? woman? man?) asked, “If I open this bag, will anything harm me?”

“No! No, not at all,” I rushed. “All that’s in there is shoes. Oh, and a bunch of computer things. And I guess some snacks.”

Snacks is right.

The agent slowly, hesitantly, cautiously unzipped the suitcase, and beheld the contents.  “Ma’am, why do you have so many energy bars?”

Full disclosure: in my bag were hundreds of LÄRABARs.

“Well, those are for my co-workers in Nashville.”

“Okay…?”

And then, without further prompting, it all came tumbling out. “I resigned with the company – just last week, actually. I’ve been working for an email marketing company that’s based in Nashville – but I’m switching jobs. To LÄRABAR, actually. They’re based in Denver – I live in Denver. I just wanted to bring my Nashville friends some bars – as a little farewell, I guess.”

There it was. And there it is.

The suddenly indifferent agent waved me through security and all the way to Nashville, where I’ve given the bars to my friends at Emma – an understated thank you for the three years of support, camaraderie, and friendship they have given me.

Come January, I’ll join the marketing team for LÄRABAR, a brand that I have been evangelizing on my own for years. I am leaving an incredible company for another incredible company, which is not lost on me: this basically makes me the luckiest girl in the world. This is one of those moments where I can look back and see how the complicated, jagged-edged pieces have fit together perfectly, creating a gigantic flashing arrow, pointing me toward this next step.

So my suitcase may be emptier – but as much as my heart is tempted to feel the same (after all, I am giving up what has been a very good thing), it’s actually full to overflowing. I will spend the next week with some of my favorite people in Nashville, and then gently close the door on what has been a beautiful season in my life.

The goodbye is bittersweet, but the future feels warm and bright. In fact, my heart is exploding with sprinkles.

Just don’t tell TSA.

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