I shuffled down isle of the Southwest plane, dragging my carry-on bag and sniffling. My eyes were still red from the tears I shed leaving my six-month-old granddaughter. They are only a two hour flight away, but it felt like another country away, in my heart. I found my window seat and settled in to have some quiet reflection of my visit. I loved this child before she was even conceived. I was so sad to leave this precious little one and head home. I was in tears before we headed to the airport.
I hoped it wasn’t a full flight. I wanted to have some space to get my face to back to normal. I looked like I was a hundred and fifty years old with my red eyes and puffy nose. I’d already cried off my mascara and had a few black stains on my cheeks. I was wearing jeans and an old comfortable sweater. I was not at my best.
And who arrived to sit in the aisle seat, but a stunning, younger woman. Her foundation was perfectly applied. Eye shadow accentuated her sparkly eyes. Even her hair was super shiny. Her long, flowing, skirt fell just to the top of her high heels. She put her stuffed, leather, briefcase in the seat between us, while she buckled in. I noticed her perfectly manicured nails and hid mine. She smiled at me and I smiled back.
I dozed off for bit and when I awoke, she asked, “Would like to have a glass of wine with me? I have a free voucher.”
“Of course, I’ll join you. How sweet of you to offer,” I said sincerely.
As we sipped our chardonnay, I learned that this woman, Leah, was a Chief Marketing Officer for a large company and a personal coach. She traveled frequently. I imagined her in a corporate board room, running meetings and making huge deals. Surely, she had designers who made her clothes. I was very impressed and a tad envious. (Okay more than a tad to be honest.)
When she asked about my life, I told her I was an author of “How I Earned My Wrinkles…Musings on Marriage, Motherhood and Menopause” and gave her a copy. I told her about my wrinkle maker of a husband, my five kids and my so-called retirement.
We were chatting away when she mentioned that she’d just purchased a farm in Florida.
“A farm? You? No Way!” I was astonished. There was no way this lady had a tractor in her barn.
“Oh yes, I bought this farm not knowing there was a hitch. I had to take Elvis or the deal was off.”
“Who is Elvis?” I asked curiously.
“Oh,” she said, non-chilantely, “He’s a twelve hundred pound steer.”
I immediately hit the light to notify the stewardess we’d need more wine.
“A steer? You own a steer named Elvis?!? You can’t be serious!”
“Not just any steer,” she noted, “a twelve hundred pound steer, named Elvis.”
It seems Elvis took a liking to my new row 16, seat A, friend. When she flips her kitchen light on at six every morning, he runs to the window and bellows to her.
Now, here she was in all her professional glory, dressed to the nines, telling me a twelve hundred pound bull sings to her every morning. Now I was crying with laughter.
“He’s actually bellowing for some sweet feed,” she explained. “He loves when I brush him and give him apples as a treat,” she continued. He was sounding like a new puppy now. Well, it could have been the wine that I imagined that.
We exchanged cards, became friends on Facebook and stay in touch periodically. I’ll shoot her a message, “I’m flying up north to visit my granddaughter next month. Shall I save you a seat?” Maybe one day it will really happen. I hope so.
My message to you is this: Be careful who you sit next to on a plane. Be careful if they offer to buy you wine. And be very carefully to hug them when you get off the plane. You never know when you’ll see them again.
And now………Meet Elvis. Did I mention he weighs twelve hundred pounds?