Standing at a little bar at the Cincinnati airport, I heard a voice, or felt a presence, or smelled a perfume. I don't remember what it was, but something happened. Something that made me turn around.
It ended as quickly as it had begun. It might be her it's her no it's not her. Same hair, similar body, but completely different gait and, once I ran out of the bar and caught up with her, a completely different face.
But the damage was already done.
My first public anxiety attack, right there in terminal B. I could barely walk, I couldn't have spoken if the need had arisen. I stumbled my way from the scene of my disappointment to the seats outside my gate, and I shook. I shook until I remembered my rock. I took my rock out of its pocket and rubbed it with my thumb for about ten minutes, and finally I felt better.
The plane was completely full. I had the aisle seat, 29D, and there was a hot girl in the center seat. She kept dozing off and leaning against me. Then she'd wake up and apologize, embarrassed for her transgression. I didn't tell her that it was okay for her to touch me, okay not only because she was hot, but also because it felt good to be useful to someone. If my purpose today was merely to be someone to lean against, to be someone who, by my very presence, helped another person get through a tedious journey, well that was fine with me. Better than nothing, which is what I've been lately.
Back when I was much younger and much more afraid of flying, I'd catch myself looking around whatever plane I was on, checking out all of the different people, and wondering are these the people I'm going to die with?
We're all such completely different people. Not just the outward differences though those are the most obvious, but the internal differences, formed from our experiences as we go through life. We are all, by definition and by necessity, different.
But put 200 people on a plane, and no matter what they look like or what their backgrounds are, they're all , for a while at least, sharing the same experience. Perceiving it differently, assigning more or less importance to it, paying more or less attention to it, but for that period while they're all sitting in the same tin can hurtling through the same air towards the same distant destination, their experiences - their life paths if you prefer - they merge.
Of course this happens all the time. You people reading this entry, for example, are all sharing the experience. Every day we encounter other people, other completely autonomous beings, and our lives merge for a bit.
I dunno, maybe I'm drunk.