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It’s a strange sensation; chasing daylight. 12/12/12 has arguably been the longest day of my life [literal statement]. My alarm sang at 5 am, and after missing my first flight, I said goodbye to Boston at 9. Hello midday Chicago, nothing eventful besides sitting next to a chatty Italian. A man traveling on business, fiddling with his wedding band and saying I looked like some Hispanic actress. He’s been married 35 years and I don’t think his intentions were indecent – that to say the compliment made me smile rather than cringe. We talked about life, what I was going to do next, how his daughter was a driven genius who could be rather cold. I talked about Maui, my mother, how I couldn’t bring myself to pursue a profitable desk job at the expense of my soul. “Idealistic,” he said with a chuckle. “Don’t lose that.”
Late afternoon in LA was nothing to speak of. Commiserated with Evelyn, a beautiful girl from the Netherlands, about the stress of standby. You just never feel settled until you have that seat assignment in hand.
And now I find myself settled comfortably in 17A. The sun has already gone down, but here above the clouds, night still wrestles with day and a violent strip of red-pink is layered between green-blue and black. When I arrive in Maui it will be 9 at night, but 2am EST. Following the sun, I have gained an extra five hours of this duodenary day.
Is this significant? I can’t lie, I don’t put large stock in the meaning of numbers, but something in me was on the lookout for the unusual or serendipitous. But nothing truly noteworthy has happened. True, this seat is a total score; it’s normally a rest spot for the flight attendants which means I have a leg rest, lumbar support, and a near-full recline all the way home.
But I was expecting an encounter of some sort.
Call me cliché, but I was thinking I’d sit next to the man of my dreams, you know? Or some stranger who worked for an amazing company and just happened to be hiring. Or even a well-connected writer who would bestow a wealth of knowledge and experience on me. Instead I’m sitting next to some high school punk with an earring who is traveling with his basketball team. And my flight attendant has some ridiculous red feather Christmas garland in her hair that makes her look more like a parrot than anything festive. That’s beside the point – I just find it rather irritating. I know I said I would be disgustingly optimistic, but I can already feel the disappointment creeping in…12/12/12 seems that it will be a day like any other.
Of course, that’s the rub isn’t it? Should a date determine my level of excitement or openness to adventure? Shouldn’t I make an effort to approach every day with that mental attitude? Every second holds infinite possibility. And I should know this, perhaps better than most. In the blink of an eye, my father died and the world went sideways. I watched as my name was drawn at random from a Wheaties box and I was sent to Washington DC as a Congressional Page. In the five awful minutes it took me to read an email I learned I didn’t have enough credits to graduate Stanford and I thought my life was over.* In one conversation I learned my mother was in love and starting a new chapter an ocean and a continent away.
Life is crazy. And ordinary. Some days don’t feel spectacular or significant, but who knows how today will fit in the scheme of things. Looking back, days I thought ordinary ended up feeding into pivotal moments. So I guess that’s my takeaway from today; be open and expectant always, even if the date isn’t cool.
[I was one measly unit short, and I ended up petitioning for more units then graduated at the end of summer. But it was ridiculously stressful.]