It was a last minute mad rush to make the US Airways flight at 1:20 rather than waiting until the 4:30. Fortunately, I had my luggage in hand and got to the gate at 12:55. There was only one seat left and it was mine… amazingly it was an aisle seat. At 1:05 we got onto a shuttle bus which brought us to the 50 person commuter Jet. Somehow I was one of the first people on the plane. Found my seat 2 C. Settled in. This was a very quick trip as I had come into DC after diner the night before to do 19 television and 4 radio interviews between 6 am and 12 noon on the 8th. I was filling in for the President of the National Association of Realtors. who could not make it to D.C. due to some health issues. Nothing like bathing by fire. The interviews were fine although I was exhausted.
One of the last people on the plane was a tall young man. He looked like a college student with that well dressed Banana Republic uniform. Kaki pants, striped shirt, blue jacket and golf hat. He quickly took his seat. We shared pleasantries. Always like to talk to the people around me since 9 11. He was an undergraduate student in one of the best schools in DC. He lived in East Greenwich in Signal Ridge and had gone to Hendricken. It was my assumption that he was going home early for Easter, but he was not. He was going to home to be with his family as his uncle, 51, had just pasted away. He opted not to elaborate, other that to say the family was really upset.
(As he and his family are from East Greenwich, I will leave the details out. It is easier to share life stories of people who are not our friend, neighbors or relatives).
We talked about school. life, career options, happiness, and more. Inside I was smiling broadly as he reminded me of my self at 19 20 years old. You may remember it as the time when you knew the most and were most generous with your information. It was one of those conversations when information and knowledge were infused with wonder and exuberance. The freshness of the vision and the crispness of thought are trademarks of the age and the station of life. We talked religion, families, teachers, and aspirations.
As the conversation continued, there was a strange familiarity. Have you ever been in a situation, where you know you do not know this person, but you do? It was discomforting…how do I know this kid? Was he a friend of my daughter or one of my sons?
As I get older I ask more questions, and tend to offer fewer answers. When your ‘life-sight” ages, you will find it hard to be absolute and binary. You recognize that life’s fabric is a colourful quilt. At 19 and 20, your vision, ironically, tends to be binary…dark and light. Not sure if it takes 50 years for everyone to develop good ‘life sight,’ but it is a very valuate sixth sense. Incidentally, I just found out that I had it… Can you imagine what life would have been life if you had learned to use that ‘sense’ in your twenties?
The conversation with the person in the window seat continued until we landed. Then we thanked each other for the time together and set on our separate life paths. Was already at the next “station’ in my life tracks as I descended the escalator to baggage claim. As soon as I arrived at the bottom of the stairs, someone called my name: “Ron” I looked up and saw a friend from many years ago. She and I had graduated from the same College. I preceded her by fewer years than her appearance suggested. She is one of those rare people for whom time’s second hand leaves no marks… It was great to see her after so many years. Then I realized that she was my seat mate’s mom. Now I know why he was so familiar.
She started to introduce us. “Mom, I already met him…I sat next to him on the plane.” “Are you going to write about him…” I smiled . I expressed my condolences on her family’s loss and congratulated her on her son: “He is a fine young man.” She has a lot to be proud of. It is a great life achievement to raise a child of purpose and caring. She and her husband had.