I pressed my greasy finger against the cool glass of the airport check-in kiosk. I’ve been sweating since I woke up this morning and now I’m enjoying the AC in another over-sized glass building where I’ve spent too much waiting since I’ve been here. I was in a bad mood because I had only slept about an hour the night before and for no good reason either. “This flight may be full. Would you be interested in volunteering your seat for compensation?” the kiosk offered.
“Sure.” I thought in my easily impressionable state, “Why not?”
I arrived at the gate moments after the agent pushed the little red button of the walkie-talkie and articulating my name in a perfect accent into the speaker. My timing seemed too good.
“Soy Chlirissa Perez”
“Do you still want to give your seat?”
“Yeah. I mean, wait… when can I get another flight.”
He described to me how I’d have to spend a couple hours here and then couple in Chicago. I’ve slept in Chicago. Really, it’s worth the flight to an unemployed soon-to-be student. Whatever vague thoughts I had about the situation, I was registering value not experience… what was my time worth not where would I go. Last year I had wanted to visit Ashley and Tessa, but they didn’t move. They broke up, and neither of them are leaving the East for a while. Instead, I went to Detroit for a conference because the ticket was on the verge of expiring.
When I’d done this before, it seemed like it could be the kind of adventure I dreamed about as a child toppled over in a fort between the couch cushions. Moreover, under the pretense of dharma, I was carrying out an ego-driven quest to prove to myself how rugged and resourceful I could be. Groundless ground had grown less novel in the interim since though, and I had had more than my share of spiritually challenging travel stories. All the same, I nodded my head at the man and grumbled that I was fine with it. What is a couple more hours of waiting if I’m going to be dazed out on miserable already?
It was only after I sat down and begun typing that I remembered I have someone I want to see who lives a plane flight away. I’m sure this seems an absurd detail to overlook, but it wasn’t until I returned to my niche (I’ve learned to treat any seat within two feet of a power plug as a home away from home at this stage in my life) that I remembered how desperately far away the West Coast loomed. I remembered how sleepless I had been since she told me she had made that final decision to move. I let myself begin to imagine what it might be like to share another first with her, to stretch further across the country than I’ve ever imagined myself going. I’ve said before that the West Coast might as well be another country, and I set to work in my mind illustrating my passport so as to make it more believable.
My day dream was interrupted as the agent announced that the plane was to leave late. I strolled up to the desk to get information so that I could leave an excited message on her answering machine. He told me he had changed his mind. Why had I let myself indulge that daydream? A woman once told me expectations are premeditated disappointment. It sounded cheesy at the time. But as I sat sulking in my missed connection and the hours of waiting that ensued only to learn that I had to take a plane the next morning, I damned myself.
She's been dangerous from the beginning. She challenges me to want, to know what I want, and to let myself entertain my wants. She makes me want to have dreams. When I think of her I give myself permission to believe in things just because I dream them. And the airline is just the latest co-conspirator…