I don't spend a lot of time on flights.
Or traveling for that matter. With small children and a deep desire to hermit, it's not on the top of my list. So when I do travel and risk my life for death defying air travel(am i the only one who thinks this?), I can ponder quietly on life and people and future.
I was dropped off a bit early at the airport and decided to get an ice tea. Always ice tea, even in the winter. A lady whizzes up to the Starbucks giant line and sort of panting exclaims," I have a flight leaving very soon. Can I go ahead of you?" One by one, same question, barreling through the line with a giant suitcase. The hormonal pregnant woman in me wants to say, perhaps a better choice is to not get a coffee and get on your flight?
But I don't. Because people are watching, not because I'm kind. I want to see who will say no and eye one really agitated man a couple of people ahead. he's ready for a standoff and for some reason, it warms my heart.
she makes her way to him and asks the same urgent question.
Where are you going?
She answers something. probably, the moon-- where i belong.
I'm on the same flight. You're fine.
She still keeps her spot in line and grabs a salad. I laugh to myself. No coffee, but a salad! The lady in front of me rolls her eyes and sighs. The older woman behind me chuckles with me.
I watch another pair of women order drinks. When one of them opens her mouth to order, her voice is off. Tonal. She's beaming and proud. as she speaks more, I realize there is a special need there and I keep my eyes on her.
The barista says, excuse me?
smah. SMAH. And proudly hands her card over. her trusty partner, who I think is her sister, repeats , she said small.
And all i see is Lila. Many many years older and smiling, looking completely normal and well dressed. Trying hard, so exuberant, feeling independent. Excited about an adventure and it's showing all over her face. She can't hide her emotions like the rest of us. I see her as a little girl that i know and feel tears working their way up. i wish i was her for a moment so i could show my emotions with no boundaries. She isprobably 45 years old now. I'm distracted from my swirling emotions, When the lady behind me hears my order and says, that combination sounds nice. I'm an ice tea gal myself.
Oh really! I've never met someone like me in that way.
Well, what the heck! I'll try something new, she says.
Good for you, I say. Bonding over our love for Iced tea even in the winter and disdain of the salad lady from the moon.
I sit down and drink my tea. Older Lila sits a stones throw away from me making eye contact with everyone and smiling. Her eyes giving giant hugs. god knitted her together and she is precious. can anyone else see it?
I think about how special needs kids are endearing when they're little... But people forget that these children grow along with their need for independence. Is it cute then? I think. When they become an adult, it's not so endearing. then what? I have always felt alone in that thought, but now, i watch someone--a stranger-- live out my fears. And instead of sadness, it's like salve on a wound.
When I get in line to board, I stand next to a man.
I say, you headed to Florida for fun or business?
I keep it going for a bit more, Are you from here? Or passing thru?
I'm from Amarillo.
No way. that's where i was born and grew up some of my life! It so strange to meet someone from there randomly.
We board and I sit next to a sweet elderly couple playing gin. He's an attorney and quick whitted.
he remind's me of my dad. hard from the law, able to talk to anyone, and somewhere in there tender from life's hardship.
He introduces his wife and i say, it's so good to meet you.
I'd say it's nice to meet him but attorney's aren't anyone's favorite people. We laugh together and I watch them play cards and tease each other.
"Did you really just throw that out there? My goodness!"
A minute later, looking up from the side of her eye, she quietly and proudly mutters, gin.
I think about the future again. Will My husband and I grow old like this together? Traveling and enjoying eachother as empty nesters?
I look up and see sweet older Lila coming back from the bathroom. She's beaming again and we make eye eye contact briefly. I want to say, I'm proud of you. You are independent and I see you. But there wasn't enough time and she didn't need my words anyway.
In a place where a million people come in and out of, all keeping to themselves. a lonely place full of people, I found comraderie with them. A similar drink. The same home town. My greatest fears lived out. Someone like my father sitting next to me.
The future was swirling 25,000 miles up in the air with questions as many as the clouds out my window.
But I couldn't help but smile and feel a sense of camaraderie even among strangers. A sense that somehow we're not alone. And For all the differences we have, we forget to notice there's probably more sameness than we'd imagine. a breath of fresh air from the cynical and critical found in the recycled oxygen and confined spaces of airports and airplanes.