your mother left you at a random hospital in America when you were four years old. twenty years later, you’re on a flight from New York to San Francisco and you end up seated next to a stranger that looks vaguely like someone you remember…write the scene.
“You look pretty decent when you run a brush through your hair,” my boyfriend Fletcher says. I roll my eyes at him as I attempted a fancy head-wrap with a summer scarf I’d seen on Pinterest. “Pretty decent, gee thanks,” I reply with a big smile, “you’re going to miss ‘pretty decent’ for the next week.” “Yeah, you’re right,” he says, undoing the scarf I’d just spent twenty minutes wrapping around my head. “I don’t feel like missing you just yet…” – the next thing I know, we are both unwrapped from our clothes and completely wrapped up in each other.
Fast-forward an hour and we are mad-dashing out the door – sans head wrap, damn it you sexy man! – to catch a taxi so we can hop on a train that will eventually get me to a plane where I will be taken to San Fran to see my mom for the first time in a year. My mother and I we – well, we’re something. We have such an interesti- we used to be extremely close, then something happened – some sort of disconnect that I don’t understand – so naturally I am thrilled to be visiting for an entire week. Who knows what will happen? I’m hopeful for re-connection, or to at very least address what happened to begin with. None of it makes any sense and I want to hear it from her. I’m extremely hopeful that this visit will go well, and I swear I’m starting the trip with nothing but positive vibes – swear it.
I knew I was going to be late for my flight, just knew I was going to miss it and have to call my mom with the disappointing news that my trip would be cut short by a day, but to my surprise, the flight was delayed by an hour for maintenance and made it just in time. I was really treating myself for this trip. I’d booked my first first-class seat on a flight that made me feel more luxurious than Gwen Stefani. I had someone to help me put my non-Louis Vuitton bag in the overhead storage. I’d thankfully remember to swipe my copy of Dune to keep me occupied on the flight. Fletcher gave it to me to read months ago and though I was unsure at first, it really is the best sci-fi novel I’ve ever read. Ever.
I was relieved that no one was sitting next to me, even though the plane appeared to be full. I loved this, things were really starting to feel like vacation. I put my ear-buds in and opened to the marked page where I’d left off. “It was a dangerous universe where such ideas were allowed to float around freely.” I was repeating this line, over and over in my head when a gorgeous brunette woman briskly stepped on to the plane, making the most subtle of grand entrances, the way a talented but not overly proud artist introduces his work. She was tall-ish, in an awkward way, but still managing to control the attention of the entire first class and all of the flight attendants, who were immediately helping lift her bags, fawning over her like she owned the damn plane. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, she was the most fabulous person I’d ever seen. “Mrs. Grigsby, it’s so nice to see you again, what a lovely bag, is it new?” Okay…maybe she did own the damn plane.
It was wild. I immediately stood and grabbed my purse from the overhead compartment, dashing in to the bathroom to check my face and re-attempt the Pinterest head-wrap thingy. I felt instantly pressured for this woman’s approval as I knew the seat she would be taking would be the one next to mine. I wanted her to look at my brunette beach waves and think to herself how perfect they look with my effortlessly chic head-wrap and purposefully non-matching maxi dress – looking effortless is a lot of work people. don’t be fooled. I gave myself a once-over at least three times before deciding that I felt okay enough to sit back down. A little fact about me: I have no shame in admitting I need a stamp of approval, even from strangers. I have no idea why I feel like it’s important, but I don’t feel okay about my day if I don’t catch the barista at Starbucks silently wishing she was wearing my shoes.
I made my way out of the bathroom and back to my row, storing my purse back in the overhead where it belonged, a stewardess practically pushing me in to my seat as the Captain had already called for everyone to take their seats before departure. I slipped in to my seat and fastened my seat-belt, noticing I was breathing heavy. I tried to slow this as I slightly opened the window – I like to look out the window when we take off, it’s the best part. I reached for my book, but it was gone. I went in to a slight panic, then out of the corner of my eye, I saw in perfectly manicured hands, my copy of Dune. I turned slowly to face the woman sitting next to me and I felt as though someone had punched me in the throat, in the gut and had kicked me in both knee caps simultaneously. I more than recognized this woman’s face. At the same moment that the proverbial wind was kicked out of me, Mrs. Manicure spilled her glass of Chardonnay and dropped my book, drowning it, her eyes never leaving mine. Our moment of recognition was equivalent.
Twenty years of no memories at all could ever wipe that woman’s eyes from my memory. I haven’t seen my mother in twenty years. I was on a plane to see my mom for the first time in a year and I end up sitting next to my mother. I tried as hard as I could, but couldn’t for the life of me fathom wrapping my head around the probability.
I will no doubt revisit this story, as it is way too much of a cluster not to enjoy. Any feedback thus far is greatly appreciated. Who knows where I’ll take it!