I’m traveling again this week. I do it just about once a month. I never thought I’d be a girl with airline tickets littering her room to the point where I use them as bookmarks but here I am, lucky enough that about once a month I fly out to Texas to visit my boyfriend and eat all of his Nutella. My mother likes to tell people I am a “jet-setter” which is cute and glamorous in a Reese Witherspoon-y kind of way. It’s also funny; as though when I travel I’m not all wistful in coach over a plastic cup of warm cocktail nuts up in first class. Which I am. I totally, totally am.
Despite always wanting cocktail nuts and always just settling for the granola bars I keep in my bag at all times (because what if there’s a Lost sort of emergency and I’m starving, you guys?), the flight is only just over two hours so it’s not like I’m boxed in one of those Japanese square watermelon molds they call seats for very long. However, if you’re sitting next to a negative chit-chatty person (i.e. an older woman who does nothing but say mean things about passengers you don’t actually know- yes, this has happened to me), two hours can be The Longest Flight of Your Life. There have been several instances where I’ve actually put a sweater over my head to try to get the point across that This Conversation is Over.
Usually though, when flying, I try to put on my best Bitch Face. One that says, “Leave me alone, can’t you see I’m bitchy?” Except, I’m not particularly bitchy, so this often doesn’t work as my Bitch Face apparently looks a lot like my You Should Talk to Me and Tell Me Your Life Story Because I’m Really Nice Face. Maybe it’s the freckles?
I also go cry-face at the airport, as is my wont when I leave my boyfriend, Greg. I mean, it’s always sad to have to reenact that scene from Casablanca where Ingrid Bergman gets on the plane but Bogart stays behind. Sure, we’ll always have Denton, and I’m usually back in three weeks and I do a great Ingrid Bergman impression- I’ve got the trench coat and everything- but it’s sad, you know?
I was still sniffing all totally cute and girl-like when I sat down in seat 21A on flight 1955 back to Phoenix, so I didn’t have time to put my Bitch Face on before the passenger in 21B sat down next to me. He looks like he’d been crying, too. I begin to pull out my ear plugs (travel tip: INVEST IN EAR PLUGS) as a subtle way of saying, “Do not engage me in conversation, I’m distraught,” but the message doesn’t get across to him.
“I’m going to Arizona to see my ex-wife,” he says by way of introduction. And then the doors to the plane close and they may as well have been the gates to hell.
“Oh,” I say and sniff.
“Y’know,” he sighs, “I really thought that we’d be together forever and I really want to get back together with her.”
I start nodding a sad slow nod like, oh yeah I understand. As though I’ve ever been married before or I actually know this guy who was basically treating me like his open Tumblr.
“She left me, so I left Phoenix,” he gives a sad laugh. “Said she couldn’t handle ‘having everything’,” he uses air quotes, “Whatever that’s supposed to mean. What is that supposed to mean?” He hits the flight attendant call button and when the blonde woman comes over asks, “Can my friend,” he points to me, “and I please get some Jack and Coke? Now?”
We hadn’t even taken off yet. But I’m twenty-four, so it was totally okay.
By the time we were about to land, I had stopped sniffling all together and this older, balding man was now crying hard, real tears, while simultaneously showing me photos of his ex-wife and her new breasts. I gave him my tissues, which like the granola bars, I always have on hand.
I am a girl. What do you want from me?
From what I could tell from the photos, the ex-wife was pretty if not superbly young. She didn’t look unlike a Kardashian. Personally, I would have known things were going sour when she said to him that the engagement ring he got her was “too small.” He shows me a photo of the before ring and the after, which was roughly the size of a three month old baby. “She likes pink diamonds,” he shrugs as he breezes past a few not safe for work photos of his ex on his phone. “Sorry,” he says, “Those are for me.”
Our flight lands safely and as we line up single file like a bunch of first graders to get off the plane, the man in 21B turns to me to thank me for listening and I’m like, yeah it’s okay, don’t worry about it. I tell him I hope everything works out, that he gets back together with his ex-wife like he wants to. He laughs a fake laugh that turns into a slight whimper. “And hey,” he says, “If she won’t get back with me, at least we’ll always have Phoenix.” I smile politely, but I’m so glad when he turns the opposite way at baggage claim. I can’t help but think I highly doubt this sort of thing happens in first class. And if it did, at least we’d have warm cocktail nuts.
Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/newsbiepix/