Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A short story: part 1

The Flight of the Heart: A Sob Story about Two Soulmates Who Find Eachother
at the Worse Possible Time

I hate airports. I can tell you why. I have never managed the logistics of handling my purse, license, ticket, luggage and carry on bag all at once. I did better before the self serve ticket counters insisted that I become even more self sufficient, but I have always been totally capable of losing, finding, and losing again anything: including my cellphone and my work folders. Once I left my large suitcase just outside of one of those disgusting bathroom stalls. It was still there when I went back 20 minutes later but by then the two stalls on either side were so gross it was all I could do to pull the bag toward me and hightail it out of there.

This is another reason I hate airports. I don’t expect that much in life, well maybe I do, but please sweet jesus, let me have a clean place to pee. Let it be clean, let the toilet be flushed empty, let the goddamn seat be dry, and let my miserable minutes before I board the plane smell ok. All this is clearly too much to ask. I am waiting for the day I chase down some oblivious nonchalant woman for not wiping the seat. I plan to confront her and insist she return to dry things out. I’ve been thinking about doing this for 20 years.

So this August, when I expected to be home floating in the Clairion pool by morning, finishing my book by afternoon, and hanging out in my sweet sanctuary of a home by night, I am instead sitting at the airport in Dallas, waiting for a flight to Boston that has now been delayed twice. The gate is overflowed and if it weren’t for the clicks of keyboards and the rude rumbles of cell phones everywhere, it would be obvious that the frustration level has overtaken all polite semblance of patience.

This is the third reason I hate airports. Some people like the fascination and diversity of all these comings and goings, the drama of people greeting or leaving eachother. Some people like the quiet time sitting in those not-really-leather chairs with only grey walls to look at. None of these things interest me at all. My life is already fascinating, diverse, dramatic and quiet when I need it to be. I don’t need a false environment to entertain me.

Oh yes. And I’m also terrified of flying. I almost forgot that.

I’m tucked into my own little version of the chair I love to hate. I have checked my bag twice to be sure I still have my wallet. My airline ticket is in flapping from the outer sleeve of my purse, and behind it is my appointment book, which would be distasterous to lose. My cell phone is in my lap and my carry-on is to my left on the floor. I am my own air traffic controller keeping track of all this.

This Filipino woman has sat beside me, initially smiling and taking care not to overextend herself and her possessions into my chair space. She is about 5 feet 4 and meticulously attired. Her hair is jet black and falls just over her ears. She wears pearl earrings and a string of pearls around her neck, followed by a jet black running suit with a thin white stripe down each pant leg. She has new Adias sneakers and carries a Dell laptop, which she is balancing on both legs and is preparing to dive into it. I catch her eye.

“Are you on this flight to Boston?”, I ask.

“No”, she says gently. “If I were flying I would not be dressed like this. I am waiting for my husband to arrive from Phoenix. His flight is now 3 hours late because of this electrical storm”.

“I’m late too”. I said. “I’m flying back to Boston and I’m not happy”.

“Oooh” she said, “That is ok. You can talk to me”.

In my work I meet all kinds of people. I am a closet introvert with extrovert skills and I’m easy to talk to. I run feel-good workshops that make it easy for folks to feel like they know me. It gets alittle boring after a while—there’s actually a little hero worship in the way I am often treated , but I take it in stride and don’t let on how very private and self contained I really am.

I looked at her face as she spoke to me. She was trying to soothe me.
“Hey”, I said, “That’s alright. You look like your laptop is waiting for you.”

“I blog”, she said. “Do you?”

“No, I don’t. But I am a writer”
“Really” she said, “what do you write about?”

“I write about people like you and me. I write about love."

She laughed. “You write about the heart. That is not what I do. I am a mental person. I like rules."

When I am amused I throw my head back slightly and my mouth widens before its obvious I’m smiling. “Rules!” I said. “I hate them. What attracts you to rules?”

“Well”, she said slowly, “I am a wild stallion. If there is not a fence somewhere in the pasture, I will roam free and find myself in trouble,”

I laughed again. Then she said, “I am called the Rules Queen at work. I am a Medical Analyst and I write rules. I love my work.”

“I like mine too” I said, “Most of the time. Except I hate to travel and I especially hate airports and here I am”.

“Yes”, she said, “Airports have too many rules and are filled with too many strange people who ignore them.”

I laughed again. “You have a good attitude.”

“Oh yes”, she said, “I have a serene simple life and a kind husband who is affectionate, protective, and altruistic. I have beautiful children. What do I have to complain about?”

“Well, you could complain that you are hungry. Are you?” I asked.

“Yes” she said.

“Do you have any interest in joining me for a drink and maybe a sandwich or salad? You can tell me all about rules and I will tell you how to break every single one. Then maybe we can talk about where we’re from and why we’re in Dallas.”

She smiled. “Yes” she said. “ I would like that."

To be continued......


  1. lotusblossoms5130 January, 2007 19:45

    Ok...I'm hooked. I love the way you write! Great story...someday~ I wanna grow up and be like you~ I'll be back for the rest:)

  2. I'm waiting with bated breath for the next instalment!

    I, too, hate flying but, oh, how I love to travel! As for "let the goddamn seat be dry" that is one of my biggest pet peeves. Just sit your asses down you neurotic germophobes so that the rest of us can do the same! Use toilet paper on the seat if your need to -- but for *!@!?sakes, think of the next guy!

    Thanks for letting me vent, kj. I feel 100% better. You're an awesome counsellor! :)

  3. Oooh, can't wait for the sequel. :)

    I would love to talk with you over a cup of coffee... I have a feeling you would ask interesting questions.

  4. lotusblossoms: thank you for a very nice compliment. i am very glad this story has hooked you!

    andrea, oh andrea, can't you please be my next door neighbor? we are on the same page on this one. i'm venting with you. *!@!?

  5. liz, you snuck in. a cup of coffee? i would love that. and yes, i would definitely ask interesting questions. and you would definitely have interesting answers....


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  7. Now why does the woman seem familiar? I can't quite put my finger on it but I get the strangest feeling I know her from somewhere...

    Can't wait for the rest of the story!

  8. OK, I'll admit to hating public loos so much I probably have the best pelvic floor muscles!
    And is this really how you two met? I just assumed you were blog-buddies.

  9. the seat I love to hate -- Ha!! I love this, KJ ... you've been to BY, haven't you? ;) xo

  10. Yippee :) I know (some) of where this is going and YAY!

  11. The soulmates : great story.
    Let me put like Menchie does it masterly : hm, hm, why does that woman seems familiar ? Hahaha.
    This is so great !

  12. ces, i will introduce you to this filipino woman. i doubt she will share her medication but she might share her lipstick or offer you a mirror....

    menchie, oh.... :)

    dinahmow, pelvic floor muscles: i can just see this picture! :)

    melissa, yes, 3 nights of by. the best part is how much i like and love these two characters!

    kris, i love that you've heard this already. i so appreciate your support!

    hildegarde, "oh" again. i'm bound to let the characters tell their own story... :)

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  14. Great story or should I say great begining. I liked if very much. I hate to fly too so I have a few drinks before I board.lol
    I like the way you write and also wanted to say thank you for reading my poem and for your comment.
    Did you do the artwork on the profile part of your blog? If so it is very good work. Hope to see you again and I must know how these two get on.


  15. Hope you'll be posting the rest of this soon. But why did you tell her you don't blog?

    I don't much care for flying either, although I can tolerate it. I mostly hate that feeling of being stuck without room to lie down.

  16. funny how friends turn up when we need them - you lucky thing you!

  17. KJ: dirty toilets have never bothered me. If you are lucky, you will be able to observe really dirty toilets in India and the Philippines! They don't flush and there is never any toilet paper! It is left hand wiping only! One has to adapt to the surrounding conditions.......