On a four hour layover in Charlotte Airport, I determined I was going to need something other than the usual faux-leather chair stuck to eight identical others. I was going to need a rocking chair so I could read my new book. Unfortunately, all the rockers were occupied except one, but even that one wasn’t exactly available. A guy was getting up from that rocker slowly, gathering his stuff which was strewn about the floor.
“You off your rocker?” I asked, admiring my clever approach. He responded quickly.
“That’s what she said last week… said I was nuts, right before she dumped me.”
“Is she right?…Are you nuts?” I asked moving cautiously in the direction of the rocking chair while keeping both eyes on him, after all, maybe he was nuts!
” Not sure. I mean it’ true, I can’t seem to pull the trigger, you know, commit.” He indicated quotes with his fingers held alongside each ear. (I do that too sometimes and I made a mental note to stop doing it, it looks so lame.) He was still talking.
” I don’t know, maybe I am off my rocker.”
“HMM”, I made that sound I often make when I don’t know what to say next, it sort of buys me time. “Maybe we are all a little nuts”, I added, “Sorry about your girlfriend, though.”
“You married?” he asked.
‘No”. I responded simply. While he was willing to putting it all out there, I wasn’t.
“Well, I’m not sure how to answer that. I was divorced and then my former husband passed away. I’m Catholic so according to The Church (I wanted to do the quote sign thing but held myself back) I am a widow because the church never recognized my divorce. I am not really sure what I am. It doesn’t much matter any more.” (I guess I was going to put it out there after all.)
I realized we were both standing alongside the rocker, which oddly enough was rocking every so slightly. He caught me looking at it.
“Please”, he said, “Sit down. I am off this rocker for sure.”
” Sorry about your girlfriend”, I added.” It’s sad to lose someone you love.”
‘Whoa… who said anything about love? I never said I loved her. Who really knows what love is anyway…do you?
“I think so, at least when I was in love, it was just as I envisioned it to be. I felt happy deep down to my soul. He saw more in me than I did in myself, he was kind and fun. He respected me,allowed me to speak my mind and flourish according to my own plan. People who are in love, love all about the other, even the differences, even the quirks. I think that’s love.“
“Are you in love now?”
“No, I don’t seem to be able to find what I once had. Sometimes I think that 25 years of being in love is more than most people get and so I am grateful for that.” He sat down on the floor alongside me. Didn’t look like I was going to get to read my book any time soon.
“Steve” he said, extending his hand.
“So what’s does Mary Ann do?” he inquired.
I’m an adjunct , USF Tampa. And I am retired so I spend time with my grandchildren, and travel a lot. Life is good for me.
“Cool”, he said.
“What do you do, Steve?”
‘Me? I dabble.”
“You dabble,” I repeated it as though I was questioning the legitimacy of his answer.
“Yeah you know, a little this and a little that. I invest in property, I own a bar in Jacksonville. My parents died early and for better or worse left enough money for me to just ..well…dabble.”
“Ah”…most people would envy you, being able to dabble.”
“Yeah…I guess. It probably wasn’t the best thing for me. He went on to talk about some poor business and life decisions. No, he wasn’t nuts, just hadn’t found his ground yet. I talked about dabbling with my writing, about my need to create stories and share them, and my search for what’s next in my life. We chatted easily as though we had been friends far longer than this short encounter.
“This is cool.” His fingers went back and forth pointing to him, to me and him again. I mean, I know it is just an airport friendship, but it’s cool.”
I liked the term, airport friendship.
Steve glanced at his watch. “Crap! I gotta get to my gate, but thanks, Mary Ann. I don’t think I’m off my rocker, but I am glad I got off my rocker for you. Before I go, can I ask you a very personal question.”
“You already have . Why stop now?”
He smiled approvingly, “Yeah, but this one is even more personal.” I knew in an instant the question, so I answered before he even asked,
“No kidding!” he responded with wide eyes and a huge smile that I hadn’t seen before. ” Wow, you look great in skinny jeans!” And off he went.
And so my airport friend put closure on our friendship, and was on his way to go dabble somewhere at something. He left smiling, making me think he felt better as a result of our conversation, and frankly I was smiling as well.
SUCCESSTROGEN is about defining your life as you wish it. And I wish my life to be like that night, meeting others and sharing stories–nothing life changing, but powerful just the same. I never did get into my book, as a matter of fact I left it there on the rocking chair for someone else to read in case they chose not to share their story with an airport friend.