I’ve never flown 15hours and 30 minutes on one flight before. its a first for me. but as a warm up for the long one, I had a 3 hour flight from Dulles to Dallas. I was disappointed to have a middle seat. mainly because I always have to pee and I feel embarrassed asking to get up all the time. so I always hit the bathroom on the plane and wait to sit down until the last minute.
by the time I got back to my seat just before takeoff, I discover that the seats that were empty before I went to the bathroom are taken by young men.
to my left is a 20 something fresh faced polite young man with a trim physique and chiseled jaw. sunburned with shiny, vasolined lips, his voice is deep and his accent foreign. he’s got rugged hands and an old G-shock watch.
to my right is a round, soft early thirties American lad with a constant light chuckle with every response and a smart demeanor.
I never talk to people on planes.
not until last year anyway. I started a practice of just opening up. assuming that there was a reason I was bumping into people. assuming there was a purpose in the ‘assignment’ of this seat, in this moment.
and since, I’ve had some of the most amazing and interesting encounters.
but today, I’m drawn. I’m pulled. pulled by attraction to my left.
I know that accent.
He’s a New Zealander. there aren’t that many in the world really.
and I’m right. indeed. a tiny little town in the South Island that I’ve driven through a few decades ago.
I feel the imbalance, and the waining ear of the guy on my right.
I turn to talk to him a bit. lots of education. PHD something. something about an interview in washington DC. theres a light tone of smug and condecension, but not enough to turn me off. I live with an intellect. high IQ doesn’t scare me.
as I’m listening, I’m checking with myself. how long until I can go back to the left.
ok, its time.
what is this New Zealander doing on a flight from DC?
of course, he’s a cowboy. he comes to Loudon county, Virginia for the summer to ride rich people’s show horses.
anyone that knows me well, knows I’m obsessed with horses. since I was a little girl, I wanted one. I begged for lessons. I want to ride. I feel like its part of my past. long ago perhaps. a cowgirl.
so I’m drawn in deeper. I want to know more.
I keep bouncing. from boy to boy. right to left. gentle organic conversation with long pauses.
I leave the left too long and he falls asleep. he’s been partying all night. right, of course, thats what hot young New Zealand cowboys do on their last night in America.
conversation goes on with mr. right. he’s nearly an astronaut. sort of humble, sort of full of himself. the conversation is intelligent but I’m bored to be quite honest. its all brain. ughhhhh. I’m over it.
at some point I feel my dreams on the left, the wild qualities of a horse, the chivalry of old times, and my reality on the right, science, brain, ego, worldly success, modern times.
I watch my physical ques, my emotional longings, my thoughts as they bounce, awake, back and forth from left to right.
I’m not sure what the purpose of the ‘assignment’ was, but it sure was more fun that sitting there in silence. but interestingly, I was never asked 1 question. is the art of conversation dead? is it just men? was I in control of the conversation?
cowboy woke up. we traversed the Dallas airport and made our way to the long flight to Sydney and parted ways.
there was no assignment on the long 15 hour flight. just a wide open row of seats and a good 8-10 hours of sleep.
one more flight to go till I’m home to my young men. no cowboys or astronauts, but the one that stole my heart 22 years ago, and the little one that makes me see the old one with new eyes.