Friday, February 11, 2005
Posted 8:52pm PST...
I've never been one to believe in the statement that "everything happens for a reason"; that there are no coincidences in life, that everything means something. Blah on that. I mean, you're telling me that COP ROCK happened for a reason?!?!? Ben Affleck becoming a star is more than mere coincidence?!?!?
I'm not buying that. At all.
So I've lived my entire life not subscribing to the fact that everything means something...except when I board an airplane. Then, like no other time, I get the feeling that the person I sit next to was put there for a reason--to teach me a lesson, to be a source of conversation, to annoy me to the point that my family looks great by comparison--there's always something I take away from the experience.
Like the time I was on the flight with the teenaged girl who was flying for the first time. She was nervous and cool at the same time, explaining to me that her grandmother would be waiting for her when we landed in Atlanta; how she appreciated me keeping her company while we flew and asking if I wanted some gum or to listen to her CDs when she was done; her asking me to pray with her and to hold her hand when we were about to touch down.
Or when I met an elderly couple on the way to Cleveland that wintry day a few years back, fresh off their wonderful trip to New York for shopping. Turns out they were heavily involved in the local Urban League and we had some mutual acquaintances. They gave me their address and we kept in touch for over a year, exchanging holiday cards and them shouting me out for my birthday.
Then there was the time I was on a flight back from Atlanta, sitting next to a fidgety young white boy who was travelling to New York for school, this being the first time he left his family for an extended period of time. He was nervous, kept asking me questions about the city, how to get around on the subway, and the best places to eat near Columbia University. I was happy to oblige, giving details of what he should expect, what to look out for, what to do. Being the detail-heavy writer that I am, I left him feeling assured that he was well-equipped for the road ahead, for the city that never sleeps, for the adventure of a lifetime.
That...was the day before 9/11. And to this day, I think back to that plane ride, and that young man, and wonder how fidgety he was after that experience, after the day that changed the world. I wonder if he went back home soon after; if he stayed and got his education. On a day that changed the playing field, brushed back even the most seasoned of New Yorkers, I often wonder if that kid took that high and tight pitch and stayed at the plate. Seriously, I wouldn't blame him if he didn't.
Those are just some of the experiences that popped into my head tonight as our plane sat on the runway for over an hour waiting to be towed into our gate. Those are some of the thoughts that danced around as a rare Los Angeles rain danced on the wings of the jumbo liner.
I think back on those conversations, those random people who were brought into my life for a reason...if nothing else than to let me know them. It's that wide cross section that makes everything seem reasonable, not so coincidental. Makes me want to be a part of their stories, to wonder how big a role I played in helping their stories progress.
I have no such story for this flight, unfortunately. The dude sitting next to me was way past needing my help. His constant fits and starts, tosses and turns, snorts and coughs made me believe that he needed the help of a professional. My synopsis was confirmed when, in an effort to get comfortable...he sat on the floor. Of the airplane. At 26,000 feet. I.couldn't.make.this.up. Sigh.
Those are just some of the things that kind of make me believe in that statement, that everything happens for a reason, at least for a second. At least until I land, when my feet are back underneath me, when I remember that everything cannot be explained, like Ashanti's singing career and Lil Kim's face.
Then, I realize that I was right in my assumptions. That something must be in the air, that the cabin pressure must play a big part in those scenarios, those times when myself and the people next to me are on a higher plane.
Note: Look out for my posts throughout the weekend. This has the makings of a wild weekend in L.A. We shall see...