dimanche 13 novembre 2005

life changing experience: "I met the man I want to marry Thursday night"

Not exactly. The man I met on my flight embodied all the qualities I'm looking for in a man, and...Well, grab something to drink and/or eat--this is a bit lengthy--while I recount that fateful Thursday night on Flight 384, OAK to LAX. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I had enjoyed experiencing it.

I was sitting on the terminal floor in line A Gate 25 writing in my journal with all the other people waiting for our plane to arrive. Ten feet across from me, sitting in those rows of chairs was a young man, I guessed in his late 20s or early 30s. He looked like a business man, except that he had a kind face, unhardened by the demanding pressures of working and commuting. He was on his cell phone. Our eyes met for a brief second. And then I went back to writing; he went back to talking on his cell.

Before boarding the plane, I knocked twice on its exterior, a little thing I do before getting on planes. I took the window seat in row 8--something I usually do if its available--situated myself and my belongings and continued writing in my journal. A few minutes later, I saw the same man walking down the aisle. I saw his face more clearly this time. He had mousy brown hair, not too long or too short. He wore black rectangular rimmed glasses, black slacks, and a shirt that, I wrote in my journal while I observed him putting his bag in the same compartment that held my duffel, "looks like graph paper". Except with green lines, not light blue. He sat in my row, just one empty seat between us.

Thank you, God. The grown-up version of the boy with glasses has decided to sit in my row, of all the other empty rows in the airplane, he chose my row. I kept writing in my journal, writing about the grown-up boy with glasses (NOTE: A boy I had a crush on freshman year but never spoke to.) who sits a seat away from me holding what looks like an essay in his hand. Is he a teacher? Is he going to correct that paper on the way to LAX? I looked at his left hand. No ring. A guy like that doesn't stay single. He has a girlfriend. No, better yet, I thought, he has a fiancee, and he's going home to her. Lucky girl.

I put my journal and fountain pen away. For some reason, fountain pens act funny on airplanes. At least, that's been my experience. An older woman, in her early 40s perhaps, asked him if there was anyone else sitting next to him. He said no, got up to let the woman through, and sat back down. How polite.

Our plane was heading toward the runway, the young man got out some papers from his back pocket. He turned to the woman next to me and said, "May I get you a drink? I have some coupons here for complimentary drinks. I fly a lot and get these coupons." He speaks! Thank you, God. I listened to this as I stared outside the window. Will he offer me something? Probably not, I'm only 19. The woman said, "Are you offering? That's very nice. Yes."

"How about you, Miss?"

I turned to them, he was looking at me with his gorgeous blue eyes, and the lady was smiling at me too. I smiled and said, "I'm not legal."

"WHAT?!?!" They both reacted. I guessed I do look older than I really am sometimes. "How many more years?" he asked.
"Two," I said.
"So you're 19." He said.
They both had this attitude, Oh we don't care that you're not legal, but I didn't press the matter any further. The woman--Ms. Baker--I saw it on all these Blue Book composition books that she had on her lap--joked, "I'm old enough to be your mother!" I laughed and the man said, "I'm old enough to be...your older brother!"

He introduced himself. His name was Mike. He's a broker and sells chocolate to companies like Swiss Miss. The way he spoke about his job, you could tell that he loved it. He wished that he had samples to give us. Miss Baker said she was a history professor. They asked me what I was studying in college.

"French Cinema. French, as in the language, and Cinema--it's separated." His eyes lit up, "Do you want to make French films?" I said that I didn't know, maybe.

We talked about why we were going home. He was going home to his fiancee. I knew it! We got our drinks. They both got white wine, while I was drinking Sprite. He told us that he's getting married on Saturday. We congratulated him and clinked glasses. It was nice.

He talked about his fiancee and all the stuff he's going through with the wedding. You could tell that he was really excited and jittery and just happy. He talked the most out of all of us. He told us these great, funny stories, and he spoke with such passion, and he was just hilarious. I swear, I've never laughed so much on an airplane before. What was funny the most was that he didn't even seem his age (31). When he spoke, he was like a kid--just excited and fumbling over his words in a cute, awkward way, but telling a really great story that was satisfying to the end.

It felt so good to be in his presence, to be a tiny part of this stranger's life. When he told me to go backpack through Europe because it'll be the best time of my life, he looked me in the eyes when he said it, and I felt beautiful in that moment, deserving of his words. When he spoke, I noticed that we made a lot of eye contact, he and I, and then he'd occasionally break to look at Ms. Baker. It's funny, I had no problem making eye contact with him. He made me feel comfortable. In those moments, I thought that Mike is the type of man I would want to be with for the rest of my life.

Before we landed, he got out this Winnie the Pooh dvd case that was in the pocket of the seat in front of him and handed it to Ms. Baker saying, "Because I enjoyed your ladies' company tonight, I thought you should have this..." Ms. Baker and I laughed out loud, and he was all, "I found it in here, and the dvd's gone--it's probably in someone's computer somewhere." Ms. Baker said, "I think you should have it, you're the film student." She handed it to me, and I said thanks and placed it in my backpack. (It's on my desk right now, a rememberance of that night).
I never wanted the flight to end--I just wanted to listen to him talk and tell his funny stories. We walked out of the plane together. He joked out loud, "I forgot the rings!" And then he started laughing. I laughed too. And then I did the craziest thing I have ever done.

He was heading towards baggage claim, and I felt like saying something to him, something better than good-bye or congratulations. I wanted to tell him how he had made me feel--me, this unexperienced girl of 19 who has yet to have a boyfriend, yet to have any sort of romantic relation with the opposite sex. I wanted him to know that he had made a profound effect on me.

So before we parted ways, I stopped him and said, "Your wife's a lucky girl, and I hope I find someone like you." Tears were forming in my eyes as I said this, but I think I did a good job of holding them back. I held out my hand to shake his. Instead, with his right hand he half-hugged me--putting his hand behind my back, and my left hand went around his. A full hug might have been too awkward, and both of us were already carrying a lot of luggage on us.

I walked away, trying not to look back. I had to let go. I felt like he was the "one". Or, he was a type of the "one". I know, how naiive of me to think so, but I really do. I mean, he's everything that I want in a guy. I was so close. But everything was off. I'm too young. He's 31. I'm off by a decade. And he already met his girl.

I imagined if things were different. If he was 1o years younger or if I was 10 years older and he hadn't met his (now) wife, then...maybe it could've happened. He could've been the one. Will there be others like him? Oh God, please say yes. Please let mine find me, like Mike had found her. I can't get this close, and not get any closer. Someone like Mike. Like Mike.

I waited beside the curb for my brother thinking, "What did I just do? He probably thinks I'm nutso. I probably ruined the whole travelling experience for that guy with my stupid farewell words. Some geeky college student who's probably never talked to a boy for more than 10 minutes fell in love with me on the airplane. I can see him telling his wife-to-be that on the phone. I can see both of them making fun of me, telling their friends about me. I am a laughing-stock for 30somethings and their friends, a story they would tell at dinner parties. I am such a loser. What, 'Good-bye and congratulations' isn't enough, Elaine?"

I stood beside the curb feeling stupid. It's alright. He doesn't even know my name. That whole time, I didn't even say my name. It's okay. I'll never know what he really thought of me. I'll never see him again.

A familiar graph paper-like shirt entered my vision. He was walking past, maybe ten feet away from me, and he was on the cell phone. I got one last look of him. He saw me, and he smiled and waved.

I'll never know what he really thought of me.