I was at an event that involved going from tent to tent to participate in different activities. At the end of one, I couldn’t find my socks, then my shoes, then something I had been carrying. I found a pair of socks similar to mine but didn’t know whether to take them out of necessity. I was getting increasingly desperate because I had a sense that I needed to visit the other tents to collect various belongings and that I had to catch a flight to somewhere. The scene changed to that of a food tent, where no one knew what I was on the verge of tears about.
Then I was in a car with a high school friend I have not seen in a long time. I asked her what she was doing, and she said that she was getting a degree in “_____ psychology.” I couldn’t distinguish the first the word, so I asked her to repeat herself. “_____ psychology.” We went through this several times before I realized she was saying “plague psychology.” I think I asked her what that is, and she, thinking I didn’t know what plague is or what it would be, said somewhat derisively, “You know, like in India or China.” I don’t think of bubonic plague specifically in those countries, but then I wondered if she meant diseases like cholera and dysentery.
I couldn’t imagine what “plague psychology” might mean. It struck me as odd because her idea of travel is a week on a beach in the Bahamas, not an educational Eastern adventure. She is also not the type to volunteer or to seek discomfort. So I asked her if she planned to go to India or China (to apply “plague psychology” to victims, presumably, and she replied brusquely, “Hell, no.” I was left speculating why she was spending time, effort, and money on something that clearly did not interest her or that she would use. I lay half awake for a half hour puzzling over this as well as recovering from the panic of having lost my socks and shoes before a flight.