The "boy" on the Airplane

     I got on the plane and had a hard time stowing my carry on in the overhead compartment, because I stuffed it too full. While I was fighting with my bag the woman waiting behind me said, "Can I get around you."
     I was already embarrassed and flustered, I said, "Are you going anywhere in a hurry?"
     "I want to get out of here."
     A female flight attendant with shoulder length brown hair and an accent looked like she was laughing inside. She helped me put my bag away. I sat in a middle seat next to a young guy who looked very nervous about flying. Some of his friends said reassuring things from their seats nearby. He had dirty blonde hair and the pale complexion of an electronics enthusiast. When I sat down it felt like he was aware that a not-so-bad-looking older female was now sitting beside him. And whether or not it was true I imagined his friends joking with him about it afterward.
     We sat there. I took out my knitting and he stared out the window. Then an older guy who looked like Bryan Cranston to me sat in the aisle seat. He seemed surprised he lucked into a good seat. The three of us sat there and minded our own business. We didn't small talk each other.
     We took off in an uneventful fashion and the "boy" continued to appear riveted by the view. "Bryan" struck me as the kind of man who paid close attention to details, but maybe didn't realize he was giving himself away. He asked me what I was knitting and I said socks. Then I explained to him why I never wanted to work with inexpensive yarn again. Something about "tension" and "color" and the "overall experience." Sometimes I'll say something with one intention and feel it affect the other person in an entirely different way and it changes the meaning for me. We're all interconnected like Aspen trees. One domino knocking over another one, one by one.
     There was some kind of feeling of suspension, beyond the airplane. The "boy" seemed calmed down and then we both looked at each other. Our eyes locked, but strangely I can't remember if they were blue or green. I think they were blue. For a moment it was like two totally different worlds collided and I knew he felt it too. We both looked away and he put his headphones on, but something was different. It was like briefly I saw into his life. His health problems due to mostly stress as a child. Problems with his parents. Maybe a mother with an addiction and a father who wasn't really there. Some kind of social anxiety disorder. And then the "boy" was protecting me from "Bryan" and Bryan knew it. And again I was baffled by the dance of people around me. Just like so many times when I feel like I'm being handled by ordinary people making small decisions.
     The boy and I were silent about our connection. Until the plane landed and then he wanted to talk to me a little more. It was a feeling of confirming that we both knew something transpired in that glance. He apologized for his music being too loud and I said I couldn't hear it at all. Then I was off the plane and maybe I saw him roll his bag away, or maybe that wasn't him because I stopped looking. Oh, all the moments when I close my eyes wide open.
     Later I considered the moment again and at the time I felt I might write a story about it. I literally wrote the post title, but then a friend of mine said "writers are cannibals." I wondered if I would cannibalize the boy by writing about him. I left the draft alone. I spoke to another friend of mine, a writer, and told him about my story. I asked him if he thought I would be cannibalizing him by telling the story. He thought I should write it.
     I'm a little angry because I feel like people are running interference on me and it's not helping me. I'm no longer accepting negativity into my delicate world. Negativity will find me and I'll have to deal with it, but I'm not interested in inappropriate relationships. Relationships in which I take some kind of fall for other people aren't on my agenda. Relationships in which unfair demands are made on me and I feel punished for not delivering aren't going to happen.
    Getting close to people is hard. Learning how to say no is even harder for me. So maybe there's some reason why the boy on the plane is alluring. A glance into another lifetime with no ties other than the experience. I leave with it and I leave with a story.


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