Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Very Boring Encounter

Dani and I sat in the tiny airport lounge a few metres away from our father, and plopped down our backpacks, wiped the sweat off our foreheads. It was warm, not hot; springtime in Crete was mild and pleasant but when you've been running with heavy bags you sweat anyways. We sort of laughed at one another, because we had thought we would miss our plane and here we were with all these calm and collected Greeks around us, and we had bright red faces and overly-loud laughs. Our father pulled out his lap-top almost instantly to continue working on his lectures using the airport's free Wi-Fi, but Dani and I just sat there and looked around us. People watching was one of our favourite things to do. That's when I spotted him, a tall, well dressed boy who looked my age or a bit older, standing with what could be his parents. He was gorgeous, so of course I elbowed my sister very subtly and hissed at her Hey, isn't he cute? And she whispered back I know! I just saw him too! And together we stared at him until it was kind of awkward since he never even once looked in our direction, and really, could you blame him? So we took out our books and tried to look as cool as the people around us, and not interested in anything or anyone, you know, very aloof and distant and European. Since we had just spent the last 3 months in school in Italy and then the previous two weeks lying on the beach in southern Turkey, the two of us had almost perfected the European air, and I like to think we could pull it off, when we really wanted to of course. 
Soon it was time to board, and we got in line behind Hot Boy and his parents (?), had our passports and tickets ready to go like the pro's we are, and said "Eph-er-EASE-toe" to the airline stewardesses. We slowly moved through the line-up, giggling and nudging one another and shooting glances at the boy, and looking back we must have seemed a little silly and obvious to the people around us. Once we were through the line, Dani whispered to me, Hey, wouldn't it be awesome if we got to sit beside Him? And I laughed because that was JUST what I had been thinking, and it was weird because sometimes Dani's and mine thoughts were so synchronized that it scared me when she voiced something that had just floated through my head. 
We boarded the plane, and moved towards our seats. I saw the boy sit down in a row by himself, and my armpits started sweating and I felt a prickling heat flash across my forehead and down my spine and that's when I KNEW that it must be my seat beside him. We kept moving slowly through the plane, stopping and waiting for the people in front of us to shove their luggage in the overhead bins and clamber over each other's legs to their seats, but finally we got to the row on my ticket and I was right, it WAS beside the boy. I double checked though, and then very very very self consciously I shoved my backpack into the bin and clumsily collapsed into the seat beside him, face burning up. Never before had I noticed just how extremely close and tight airplane seating was. He had the window seat and he took up both armrests. Then Dani sat down on the other side of me, a huge smirk on her face. Doing alright there, sis? She asked. I sort of mumbled something then laughed manically. The presence of this stranger, this creature with blood and bones and muscles and emotions and history, just like me, reduced me to a bumbling idiot.  So I tried to gather my wits. I pulled my book out of my purse, an extremely boring Herman Melville novel I had stolen from a youth hostel, or maybe I had replaced it with something equally terrible? Anyways, it was set on a wheel-boat I think they are called, in America, like Mark Twain. And I pulled it right up in front of my face, in order to a) look intelligent, and b) hide my red face from the Adonis beside me. 
The whole 2 hour plane ride to Cyprus I kept the book in front of my face, though once in a while I would sneak a peak at what he was reading. I think it was Spanish. But then he slept through the snack, and the drink cart, and I was in agony wondering if I should wake him up or not, maybe start a conversation. Where I thought this conversation would lead to I had no idea. Or if we even could hold a conversation, language-wise. I think I wanted it to be like Before Sunrise, except set on a plane instead of a train, and minus his parents and my sister and father. I love that movie. It has to be in my top 5 favourite movies of all time. 
But then we landed, and he woke up, pulled out a cell-phone, made a call. And I was sad for many reasons; because I didn't have a cell phone and couldn't call anyone even if I did because I didn't know anyone, and because it probably meant he was checking in with his girlfriend, and because I had maybe missed a great opportunity to talk to a fascinating person, and because life wasn't like a book or a movie and people aren't like characters that were created to interact with me. Dani, though, was killing herself laughing, mimicking me holding this awful falling apart novel in front of my face for two hours straight. And I guess that was kind of funny. 
So this isn't a story where two strangers meet and interact very much, have a connection, change one another's lives.  This is a story of cowardice, and slim regrets, and "what could have been's". I'm not quite sure why it has stuck with me for so long. I can't even remember what the boy looked like; I just have this vague impression of greatness. I do have some stories that could rival Before Sunrise, but this isn't one of them. Maybe sometime I'll tell you of them. But for now, this is the memory I needed to share. 

1 comment:

  1. Longfellow says it better than I can:

    "Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing; Only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another; Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence."