It is strange when you (really, actually) meet someone at an airport.
As I was about to pass under the new age violation, a girl cuts me on the line. She smirks, basking in her minuscule triumph that not even the atoms around her notice. I bow my head, slightly, in approval, letting her stay in front of me with the grand prize of getting to her gate a millisecond before me.
Karma, however, happened. The girl was chosen, at random of course, to pass through the magic box that can see through you. I passed, with an ounce of joy, through the real Magneto and pressed on. But my peripherals saw her, dazed but confident, arguing with the apologetic English sentinels. Surely she wanted to “opt out”, the thing we radicals, principled, rebellious kind did.
The girl argued for several minutes. Odd because the sentinels are quite accommodating with the request to invasively feel the body of another who is a total stranger. Then, her face twisted with defeat, she went through the magic box. As she approached me, I ask why.
“Did they make you go through it?” I asked.
“They did!” She said, in not so subtle protest. “I wanted to opt out, but apparently you no longer can!” And so, I met someone at the airport.
Her name is Sophia. We walk along the white lit corridors lined with capitalistic candy, liquor, and overpriced bad food.
“Where are you going?”
“New York. You?”
I wasn’t sure why it was that when she said New York I suddenly realized she was beautiful.
The typical questions followed. Where in NY are you from? Why are you in London? And as is human nature, we continued to talk to one another. And we flirted. A cautious, safe flirting. An airport-esque flirting.
We eat, speak about what we do, who we are. We keep talking, laughing, and smiling.
This was becoming a love story. And quite cinematic. As a film critic, already the scenes played out in my head.
We found somewhere to sit. More talk. More laughs. But the interest begins to fade (for the both of us). The laughs less frequent. People seeing replaced eye locking. This evolved into an almost love story.
I leave to find water, and say my goodbye. No loss or gain. But she is undeniably amazing.
I board the great metal (magic) bird, and there she was again, Sophia, just a few people in front of me.
“Hey! Too bad I didn’t cut you. We would have been even.” I said.
She stops at row 33, puts her bags in the storage above, and moves in to let people pass. I had seat 33C. And as the love story goes, she had seat 33B.
“Are you sitting here?”
“Yes, wait. You too?”
A love story, rebooted.
We sit down. I have the window seat, her favorite. She asks for it. I flirtatiously refuse. Then movies come up. We do not share similar views. She hated August Asange County. We debate the brilliance of the Coen Brothers. She doesn’t watch documentaries. We don’t click.
But if this was a movie, this would have been the first act. Meet at an airport. Fall in love. Find each other in NY. Etc. But instead of being a scene that lasted five minutes, it lasted seven hours. And again, its evolved into an almost love story.
But this wasn’t a love story about Sophia. As the captain tells us tired (second class) passengers we are near the greatest city in the world, I look out my window.
The skies were swallowed by its magnificence. This was a love story, just not about Sophia and me. It was about home. About returning home.