I’ve done this twenty times at least. From traveling with my parents out of the country, to visiting my dad at work, to going to Atlanta for music. Usually, I get nervous right when the pilot says “get ready for takeoff.” Of course, we never take off until what feels like forever after he says that. Then when I finally relax, the engine would rumble beneath me. This time, however, I wasn’t nervous at all. My palms weren’t sweaty-- they were cold, in fact. My legs didn’t bounce out of anxiety. I didn’t scratch my arm where my skin is dry... All because a nice gentleman sat down beside me.
We didn’t exchange our names until we landed, but for two hours, we must have talked every second. We had to pop our ears now and then to hear each other. We couldn’t see each other's faces under the masks, but we used our eyes as expressions. I saw his eyebrows raise and his blue eyes get big when I talked about my passion for music. He had the expressions of a little kid; when he told me he’s turning 27 I couldn’t believe it. I saw the hurt and concern behind his eyes when he talked about his mom getting married again-- he doesn’t talk to her much anymore. His roommate just graduated from law school as an immigrant attorney-- hoping to help his family in Mexico that would like to become American citizens.
Never in my life have I communicated so fluidly and in depth with someone, let alone a Stranger on a Plane. Maybe it’s because we knew we’d never see each other again and we have no one to tell. But he was so easy to talk to. I even opened up about my family troubles. Seems like both moved to Tennessee to get away from the drama. I shared my Cheez-its to lighten the mood; I kinda wanted them to myself but I would’ve felt too bad. Plus, I couldn’t smell his minty gum any more, so it probably had a flavorless aftertaste. I let the white cheddar crackers dissolve in my mouth. At the end I shook Nick’s hand, and we walked to the passenger pick-up area together… He made sure I had a ride. We waved goodbye, parted ways, and that was it.