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Archive for January, 2010

Every morning as I get dressed, I read a quote that was personally written for me by a man whose name I shall never know.

I was not dressed to impress when I boarded the plane for my long flight from Tampa to L.A, with two pit stops in Austin and El Paso. I was on my way to visit my husband, whom I had not seen in two months. This was the half way point of our time apart from each other and represented a significant stage in our life story.  I curled up next to the window in my ripped jeans and t-shirt with a Beatle’s song lyric across the chest. The two seats next to me were still empty as the last person boarded the plane. I thought I scored an entire row to myself for the next few hours, until the tall gray haired man with a hot cup of Starbuck’s coffee sat in the aisle seat of my row. No complaints. We still had it roomy with the middle seat open.

When I fly, I really should just tape across my forehead “Do not sit next to me unless you plan to make a new friend today.” The poor man did not know what he was getting into when he chose of all seats still left on the flight to sit next to Sophia.

I have a small anxiety attack inside of me if someone is sitting next to me on the plane and I know nothing about them. I have a complex that at the very least I must find out where you’re from, why you were in this location, and why you’re flying to the next location. The curiosity truly does begin to kill me until I know.

Needless to say, I don’t even think the seat belt sign was on and I knew he was an architect who was visiting Tampa Bay because his sister moved to St Pete, and he is custom designing a beach house for her. After thoroughly enjoying his visit the last couple weeks, now he’s flying back home to San Fransisco and has a layover in Austin.

I shared my story of why my husband and I are temporarily living on opposite sides of the country and answered all the usual questions that follow. The difference with this stranger was I could tell he genuinely cared about each response. Conversation went on for at least half an hour as he shared the successes and failures he experienced when in similar life situations as mine. He had lived in New Mexico and built up a successful business then picked up and moved to San Fransisco and started completely over. He had some regrets over the last 30 years, but they were mainly of missed opportunities, or wonderful opportunities that could have been discovered sooner.

As I shared at the end of my previous blog post (which was written a month before I boarded this plane), times of transition are very difficult. My husband and I were transitioning from the “focused on finishing school” phase into the “what the heck is next” phase. For two years we’d been saying we would move to L.A. when he had to go finish film school, but here I was still living in Tampa. Were we going to make the move to L.A. now? There would never be a better time. But how would we? The questions were endless in regards to: finding jobs, moving across the country, knowing no one west of Louisiana, living in the most expensive city in the country, trying to “make it” in the industry, and the list is infinite. He compassionately listened to my fears and continued to ask more questions.

Finally, the conversation came to an end, and I expressed I needed to get some of my book read. Mainly I felt guilty for talking so much. I didn’t want him to feel obligated to talk to me.

Through the corner of my eye, I continued to watch him as he attempted to read an industry magazine, design on a special program on his laptop and read a book. None of the tasks lasted long, and then he began meditating. His eyes were closed, but I could tell he was not asleep. Rather, he was deep in thought. He grabbed a pen and wrote a couple words down on an index card. Since the middle seat was between us I could not read what he was writing. He continued to ponder then add a couple more words at a time. When he was finished, he tucked the paper into his shirt pocket. At first I thought he was writing down a contact he may have in L.A. or something he thought would help me when I arrived to the city, but then I realized it had nothing to do with me. I felt silly and self-centered.

I napped for the remainder of our flight. As we began the descent into Austin I awoke. He was transferring flights, but I didn’t get off. After we landed he gathered his belongings and got in line to exit. Just as it was his turn to walk forward, he took the card out of his pocket, handed it to me and  and told me, “I wish you the best. You’ll know what to do.” Then walked away. I never asked for his name, and three months after our encounter the details of his facial features are beginning to fade. However, his story and his advice to me are permanently ingrained in my memory. His life touched mine, if only during a brief encounter.

The card the read:

THE CERTAINTY THAT YOU WILL

FIGURE IT WHEN YOU GET THERE

WILL ALWAYS BE GREATER THAN

THE CERTAINTY YOU HAVE FIGURED

IT OUT BEFORE YOU DO.

GOOD LUCK!

It’s nothing profound, yet to me is so powerful. What he didn’t know was that I was soon to embark on the most insane roller coaster in my life. I was in L.A. for one week. During that time I fell head over heals in love with the area, was offered the perfect job opportunity, and watched one puzzle piece after another fall precisely into place better than I could have ever imagined. Exactly what he told me to wait for had occurred. And then less than 24 hours before my flight left from L.A. to bring me home to Tampa, it all fell apart. We watched our dreams fall in our lap then slip through the crack between our legs and shatter on the floor. On that note I boarded a plane back to Tampa and returned even more confused than I was before I had arrived.

We’re still in a transitional phase. Brandon returned home the week before Christmas, and we are beginning to figure out what 2010 may look like. There are still more questions than answers as we begin to rebuilt a life in Tampa. None of it makes sense, and we’ve yet to arrive. However, each morning as I begin a new day just as confused as the day before, I look up at his note to me and have complete peace.

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