Both of my seat mates are asleep as I cross the continent. I’m on a flight from LA to DC, ending in Norfolk tonight. Nearly the same trip I took last year. Both on the spur of the moment, both with no clarity. My guy and I were having difficulty, and scared to deal with feeling that, I booked this ticket that had to be used or lost. So now I’m in the air.
And I try to divert myself by reading Oprah and drink a full can of real Coke, a treat I love, but mostly, my stomach is gurgly and I need the sugar.
My favorite part of traveling is people watching. I listen to couples, and watch children terrorize each other, and see the teen with Cerebral Palsy trying to escape his seat belt and I can relate. I am always in awe of how WRONG I am about people. My first impressions are incorrect, and I’ve proven it numerous times today.
I am on the BART at 6am next to a cranky looking woman. I take out some apples and ask her if she wants one. She smiles. She says yes she is starving. The flight attendant riding with us is stunning in 5 inch black heels, yet gives me tips on which elevator to take. She says her airline lets them wear comfy shoes in the air, but they want them walking through terminals in pumps.
My first flight. Young married man sitting two seats away. Reading “America’s Ticking Time Bomb of Bankruptcy”, and He never cracks a smile to anyone. Creeps me out with his book title.
Woman in pink. Lovely pink satin coat. Lovely pink roller suitcase. Starts screaming at air crew when she has to check her bag. She becomes a screaming, screeching hen.
As I get ready for flight 2, I post on Facebook that I’m sitting next to a sullen teenager and a weird French businessman. I am so wrong. And so delighted. It’s these moments that I appreciate my personality. My love of mankind. My ability to reach out.
Turns out, he is Persian. Reading from a book written in his home language. He says it’s a play. He is a playwrite. Heading to Toronto to peruse a site for a play he is in. He lives 5 minutes from my hometown. He came from Persia, between Iran and Russia, in 1979. Escaped.
She. The sullen teenager is from Virginia. Her parents divorced when she was 3. Her new father adopted her and has given her a wonderful life of travel and east coast schools, and LaCrosse, and she loves him. She is in 8th grade. She loves to read. We discuss electronics, 8th graders (I have one) and marathons. She tells me she never knew her dad, but he was a drug addict. But she is happy. And sweet.
Save for me opening my mouth to talk to any of these people, I would have erroneously judged the cranky girl, model-quality stewardess, sick child, normal guy, beautiful pink gal, sullen teen and French weirdo.
I drink my Coke. They must think I’m unhealthy. Or stupid because who drinks that anymore? They don’t know the miles I’ve run, the depths of my spirit, the hopes I still have.
And I get to the east coast with fresh eyes. This. This brings hope to me. First impressions? I’m not so good about that. And I am thankful for this.