"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Friendly Skies

If you haven't flown with me before, you may not know that my sometimes "unusual" luck bleeds into my business and personal travel. It is not an exaggeration to say that I have had my fair share of horrible seatmates on airplanes over the years, and some of you may already be chuckling remembering my post-flight grumblings or stories. Part of this is simply the fact, I think, that traveling solo sets you up to be seated next to the other solo oddballs left behind after all the couples and families have been seated; and then there is that fine line between being a frequent traveler (which I am) and an uber-platinum-super-human-road-warrior (which I am not). Just being a frequent traveler will get you seated closer to the front of the plane and guaranteed an aisle or window, and maybe upgraded to first class every now and then. This leaves you to be seated next to the center seat folks-- the non-frequent fliers--and in my case, the crazy, reading-over-my-shoulder, singing-out-loud-with-their-headphones-on, or just --in most cases--psychotic-- seatmates. (for my old friends--can we all please recall the rare coin dealer from Atlanta??)

I often play this game while I am seated in the waiting area before a flight: I look around and when I see the craziest, loudest, scariest, smelliest, or meanest looking person, I predict the odds that they will be sitting next to me. I usually choose first, second and third place finalists, and I swear, I am rarely wrong.
But, this past weekend, I had a rare round-trip of lovely seatmates. I made a cross country trip this weekend--so I had long flights over a short period of time. This can be a deadly combination. I can, um, get a short fuse after too many delays and then long flights with bad seatmates. There were delays and rude people in the ariports themselves- but once I was seated, it was a whole different story.

One the flight out to the west coast, I had slept for the first hour or so, and the woman next to me was reading. We started talking almost accidentally, and then for the next three hours, we didn't stop. What was sweet and so--well-- real, was something about her, she just needed to talk to someone. She was a mom of a daughter heading off to college-- and a son of 17. Her husband and kids were a few aisles up. She talked about how she had lost her identity because she had quit work to be a mom, how she had been her daughter's anchor--and now she was leaving--how her husband didn't see her as what she was. I know it sounds crazy--but she wasn't this whining person. It was just a moment when something happened, and she needed a voice --someone who didn't know her story-- to hear her.

I couldn't believe she felt all those things, because I saw this amazing, beautiful, dynamic, together person who had so much to offer the world. That was my first impression of her. I told her all that-- and her eyes welled up. There were some other really neat connections-- through a company I used to work for --between me and her--but she and I left on such a sweet note. We talked about how, as women, we short change ourselves so much. We forget to see ourselves as what we are--the good first-- we automatically tally up the negative and start from there. I do that, my friends do that, we all do. She said her sister says a lot of the same things to her that I had said, and it was a little sad that she needed a stranger to say it for her to hear it. But, it was also sweet.

OK, so yeah, I am a sap. And yeah, I can talk to a lamp post, I think everyone knows that. But, I love the moments in my life like that, I wouldn't trade them. The day I stop being able to connect with people like that every now and then, I'll know I have lost something.
And I guess that means that I have to take the crazies with it sometimes, too.

Oh, well. It all evens out.


Paula... August 19, 2008 at 5:57 AM  

I think all mum's feel like this at some point in their lives. I too feel as though I've lost "me" - I just got a new car and insisted it be put in my name, because I basically don't exist anymore IYKWIM.

I'm so glad your caring listening ear brought tears of happiness to this lady :)

Cassandra August 19, 2008 at 10:37 AM  

And on the opposite end of the spectrum-- when you are tumbling around in a stupor, being a mom anchors you as well and keeps you from getting totally lost.

As for weird seatmates, I always get the guy that ate 10 cloves of garlic before his flight, the guy that takes his shoes off and has smelly feet, the guy that really wants to tell you all about *his* personal savior, or the woman that thinks 10 gallons of perfume is perfect for a flight....


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