I’m sitting in an airport (JFK) waiting for my connection to Barcelona. I’m going to visit my friend Erin, who is spending a semester there as part of her business school program. I am also going to run the Barcelona marathon this weekend. I’m super excited about both.
The start of my journey was exceptional. I boarded a flight in Austin and sat down in my window seat expecting to take a nap. It was a full flight, and they were asking people to check bags rather than carry them on. A young guy, a backpacker who looked like he’d stepped straight off the trails, entered the plane with a hiking pack. His seat was in the row one up and across the aisle from mine. He looked around, trying to decide what to do in the face of full and mostly closed bins. Then he started inching into his row, with his pack still on his back. In my mind, I thought, “What the hell? Where do you think you’re going to put that monster pack?” At that very moment, the guy next to me got a look on his face that said exactly what I was thinking. He was so expressive that I had to laugh, and that started a conversation between us that lasted until we got off the plane.
Sebastian and I talked about my favorite thing in the world — writing. He gave me tips on how to become a personal historian, a ghostwriter for other people’s stories. It’s something I’ve been interested in for quite some time now. He’s done it and generously walked me step-by-step through his process. I felt like I was sitting in a fabulous writing workshop taught by the most personable of instructors. We also talked a great deal about how everyone has a story and how important it is to learn the stories of others. I learned so much about him and his family on that flight.
If learning, being entrusted with his story, and being distracted from my usual motion sickness were not enough, Sebastian also gave me tips on what to do in Barcelona, as he’s lived there before. Erin, we apparently need to try the absinthe at a great little bar not far from the circular hotel in Barcelona. Do you know the hotel? If not, let’s figure it out.
The whole exchange was a tremendous gift. I love that I made a new friend to start this journey. What are the chances that I’ll make a new friend on the next, much longer flight? Normally, I’d say they aren’t too good. But I don’t know. I’m tempted to say they’re good.
And you know what? I have no idea what happened to the guy with the monster pack. Where did he put that thing?