Unexpected Friends and Lessons

Life is really about love, isn’t it? 
The attachments we form, the people we connect with (or don’t) and the friendships we make. Sometimes we come to love (and not the big, sweeping, romantic love, but the love that friends share.) people we hadn’t anticipated even liking.

Airplanes have generally been a place where I disconnect from my surroundings, dig in and try to tune out everything and everyone. It’s about getting into a zone and resting. I generally don’t enjoy chatting with people around me on a plane. Actually, let me qualify that, because it occurs to me that I have two travel personalities:  I don’t enjoy chatting with people on domestic (US) flights. I LOVE chatting with people on shorthaul flights in Europe. London to Rome, Glasgow to London. London to Carcassone. Rome to Cairo, Cairo to Amman. Cairo to Malta. I’ve met some of the most amazing people on those shorthaul International flights. And don’t get me started on people on international train rides. Love them!

Maybe my joie de vivre only really comes alive outside the states? And if so, why the heck am I still living stateside?????

Anyway, tangent aside.

This past November I met a woman that surprised me. She was older, around eighty, and had the middle seat next to me on a packed plane. She seemed immediately annoyed to be sitting next to me, which was interesting to me and somewhat amusing. I mean, am I immediately annoying to most people? Really? Hehe!
I put my headphones on and prepared for the almost-four-hour-flight from Atlanta to San Francisco. On the aisle of our row, sat a Military servicewoman. She’d been given the last remaining seat on the plane and a round of applause in thanks from all of the plane’s passengers on boarding. God bless our troops. The older woman and I chatted with the servicewoman, who was returning home after a long deployment. After the initial niceties we all quieted down and tried to get a bit of rest.

About halfway through the flight, I couldn’t sleep, I was restless and turned on my in-flight movie screen. The woman next to me was struggling with hers a bit, so I helped her out. I began to notice over the next few minutes how much the woman next to me was being doted on by a first class flight attendant. She had been brought a first class meal and snacks and the flight attendant even swiped a passcard to give her free movies. We were in the first row of coach. The military woman on the end was receiving similar treatment, and I assumed the first class attendant was doting on the servicewoman and it kind of extended to the old lady. I was happy they were being taken care of.

The woman next to me didn’t seem to care much for watching a movie and began to chat at me. Gone was the look of annoyance. I was now slightly wary of the chatting, on my way to being annoyed. But I tried to be polite and made conversation with her. And then the conversation changed. The tone of it, after she asked me if I was married, and replied “no.” She asked if I wanted to get married and have kids, which I replied “yes, someday, when I find the right man.”She seemed relieved at this, to not be sitting next to someone with exactly the opposite expectations from life than the ones she had been raised to with (to be awife, mother, homemaker).
She smiled and opened up a book of photos she’d had in her seat-back pocket. It was photos from a wedding she’d just attended – her Granddaughter’s. I noticed that the mother of the bride was the First Class Attendant that had been tending to the woman and then the doting made sense.
The woman’s name was Dorothy. Dottie. She was eighty years old, from outside of San Francisco. She told me that she had been married when she was young, to a man she had two children with. He left her after twenty-two years of marriage. It had never been an easy marriage, but she was a devoted wife.
(She added with wry expression that her ex husband has now been divorced four times and is currently alone and unhappy.)
A while after the divorce she found herself working in a bank. One afternoon a man walked in and she *knew.* They ended up getting married.
He was my best friend. We did everything together. We never had one argument. We traveled the world. Everyone loved him. He was a good man. His name was Scott, mine is Dot, they called us Scotty and Dotty.
He had died the previous year. She looked me over, the single gal sitting next to her, then looked in the eye and said to me, “You wait for the right one. He’ll come along. You don’t know when, but it’ll happen, and he’ll be worth it.”

Maybe coming from a different generation she just assumed that I was waiting “for my prince to come along” and, you know, maybe I am.  
But I’m not exactly just waiting around. I’m busying around.  
And when that guy does come along, we’ll join our train cars together and keep on chuggin’.
You never know when the man of your dreams is going to walk into your bank and sweep you off your feet. You never know when you’ll meet someone who tells you beautiful stories about life and reminds you just what it is you’re waiting for. You just never know.

Thanks Dottie. (And Scotty)


  1. says

    Love that. My man showed up when I was 2 months into my 3 years of law school. Lol, when I wasn’t expecting it or looking for it. I agree with you neighbor. And I love that you live your life. You expand your horizons. And you don’t let the fact that you aren’t married yet to define you. It will happen! You’re amazing and deserve a man that is amazing. :)