I love so very many things about traveling. I love every kind. The kind where you walk somewhere. The kind where you drive to a new state. And especially the kind where you get your wings and fly across state lines.
Airports seem to disintegrate social divides, even with notions of first class and coach. Everyone is on an equal playing field, dependent on the airlines for a schedule. Real life is suspended in an airport terminal.
When I flew to Baton Rouge to visit Mimi and Didi, I met the nicest characters on my return flights. One rather large man had the unfortunate privilege of sitting next to me in a middle seat. He wedged himself into the space and I graciously offered him the armrest, but stubbornly held on to my window seat winnings. He made small talk, offering that he was traveling back from a Bachelor party in New Orleans with a large group and had once upon a time wanted to major in English Literature. After take off, I inserted headphones and lost myself in round after round of Plants versus Zombies while my seatmate somehow managed to sleep sitting straight up. Upon landing, he checked to make sure he hadn't wobbled over onto my shoulder, and then retrieved my carry-on bag for me from the overhead compartment. I thanked him and waltzed into the St. Louis airport, intent on finding dinner.
After ordering from California Pizza Kitchen, I scanned for an empty table where I would hear my ticket number called. Two strangers saw my plight and offered to share their table, saying "we're probably the least creepy people you could pick to sit with." I accepted the vacant chair and proceeded to engage in conversation with the two gentlemen from Texas. After wrinkling my nose in distaste for their state, I shared my penchant for OU and my plans for a major in English Literature. They promised to look for me as a barista in a nearby Starbucks upon my graduation. I heard about Nick's wife and learned about Robert's daughters. And in between I've never laughed so hard during a conversation with people I'd met only minutes before. They mocked me for my plain cheese pizza and teased me mercilessly about Tyler, admonishing that they must be invited to the wedding (side note: WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP THINKING ONE OF THOSE IS HAPPENING!?).
They even counseled me about my parents' divorce, sympathizing and hugging me when I left to catch my flight to Oklahoma City. I've since spoken with Robert via FB message and he's encouraged me with the admonition "do well in school this year. I know how smart you are and how much potential you have. You are gonna make a difference in this world." Who knew I could be blessed by angel TEXAS fans?!
I took an aisle seat next to a good ol' Oklahoma boy on my final flight. Without even speaking first, he offered me a piece of Strawberry Bubblicious gum. Wary of roofies, I hesitantly accepted his gift, but decided to take a chance. I chewed and blew award-winning bubbles. We conversed minimally, but he ended up handing over a second piece of gum after we finished our complimentary pretzels.
All in all, I'm often pleasantly surprised by the human moments I find with complete strangers. An airport caused these connections, but with a little courage A Very Lucky Girl could likely forge the same connections anywhere. Challenge accepted.