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Destiny on Board
Destiny on Board!
By Nicky Bantham
He was not your average traveller, by any means. The prominent jaw-line, stoic expression and smiling but brilliant- blue eyes, made him stand out from the crowd, who were mulling about aimlessly, each wearing expressions, which showed the effects of journeying somewhere, and for some reason. The irony being, that it was a face I had not seen before, but felt as if we had both recognised each other from somewhere, when our eyes met for the first time, in ‘CONNECTION’, a trendy restaurant at Frankfurt International.
Mine, swollen, having spent the past two weeks, mourning another failed relationship and my internal hard drive, finally ready to deploy ‘error message’ warnings to any future interests. For the record, I was the biggest ‘love bunny’ I had ever known, so for me there seemed no point in engaging in any form of flirtation, or encouraging that fragile thread of inexplicable chemistry two people share when they first meet.
‘Do you see that guy staring at you?’ said Sebastian, his tone almost patronizing. Not knowing how to reach me in that tearful moment, he continued, thinking he was helping. I’ve just heard him tell his friend, that he was boarding at gate B26, which happens to be the same flight, you’re on! His excitement faked by his need not to cry too. You never know!’ He smiled, looking as sad as I felt, evident that this was difficult for him too.
I looked at the stranger staring at me, then at the man I was ending the relationship with, from across the table, and wondered how I could have misjudged him so much? We had both reached an emotional abyss prior to my departure from Germany on that day, and our tearful goodbyes, a sure sign that we would never see each other again. We were both bereft, as everything that we’ve shared became defined in that moment.
With every step I took towards the immigration gates, I felt an incomprehensible finality come over me, fighting not to turn back to look at him again, but too weak, watching him stand there and wave, tears streaming down his face. My belief in love, crushed in that instant, along with any credible theory that could remotely convince me of the didactical value of my relationship history up to that point.
I boarded my flight, numb, unable to speak and like a bewildered Alice in Wonderland, made my way to my seat, clumsily pulling my hand-luggage behind me, crashing from one seat into the next, incapable of stringing together a clear thought. There he was, ‘MR CONNECTION’, seated and buckled up, and on the same flight to South Africa, as Seb had correctly overheard - a name he was known by, only when I was completely happy with him.
It was strange feeling his eyes penetrate mine as if he could see through me as I passed his seat. Our eyes connecting yet again, and wondering how I could be feeling secretly disappointed that I was not seated next to him? My irritation further flared, when I eventually found my seat, right at the back of the plane, miles away from him, next to a very serious looking female, with shoulder length, mousy brown, straight hair, buried in her book, clearly not wanting to be disturbed and not even looking up to make eye contact. I placed my suitcase in the overhead compartment, sat down, buckled up, taking a moment to reflect on the deep pain I was feeling, about to leave the country I had moved to for love, seven months prior to my departure on this day and ending this two year relationship, which started in another country and which had reached its expiration date.
A ten hour flight, definitely feels like a lifetime when your luggage is filled with misery, emptiness and hopelessness. The chattering crowd at the airport, a distant memory, as the flight captain signals our take-off in a few minutes. The atmosphere on the plane, calm, with only the distant sounds of babies crying, laughter and the clicking of seatbelts, as people snuggle up in their seats, massed together in this metal container, taking us all to the same destination but each for very different reasons.
‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne, a book I had read a few years ago, a book which was supposed to strengthen my belief in love, a book, that created a hype as millions of readers world- wide searched for any semblance of hope to life, and the passenger seated next to me, tucking a copy of it, neatly into the pocket of the seat in front of her. ‘I loved that book. What do you think of it, so far?’ I heard myself ask, and almost immediately regretted it, afraid that I may evoke the emotional tsunami that lay dormant inside of me for the past few hours, should her response strike a sensitive chord within me.
‘It’s been a real education involving much mental gymnastics’, she giggled, as she repositioned herself comfortably in her seat. She seemed completely comfortable in her own skin, stretching her long legs with a relaxed energy.’ I’m Danielle,’ she smiled. Hi Danielle, I’m Nicky!’ Smiling back at her and hoping that my insincere smile, would not show the deep despair I was feeling. ‘Where are you from?’ she asked, with a genuine interest, which changed my initial flight plan of spending the next ten hours in deep introspection, then disembarking with new insights. ‘I’m from South Africa’.
It was her first visit to South Africa, and as the ‘ever-so-loyal ambassador’, I spent the first few hours of this flight, directing her to the many historical landmarks reflected in our history books. She spoke of her many travels with pride. Her life-changing experience in Chang Mai, Thailand, and her many love relationships, each seeming more pointless than the next, the breakthrough for me here, knowing I was not alone, and seated beside the person who spoke of her failed attempts at love, with such incredible depth and deep humour, that it seemed impossible to look at my experience as anything other than something I would laugh about later. The book, her stories, her solitude, loves lost and gained, gave me the insight I needed and for the first time in months, felt so much gratitude for the wisdom coming from the stranger seated beside me.
I stepped off that flight, as a thirty-nine year old, single, independent, attractive and well travelled female, who has seasoned her life with relationships, creating within herself, a deeper sense of spiritual awareness and pedagogical benefit. The next flight, from Johannesburg to Cape Town, brought me face to face with ‘MR CONNECTION’, who stood right behind me in the queue at the check-in desk, and laughing uncontrollably watching me trolley my heavy luggage, whilst taking a call. Pretending as we do, to be very important when taking calls at airports, I made a snide comment, smiled and hoped that my increasing heart rate would not register on the scales that I slipped my suitcase on top of to be weighed.
Chronically fatigued, but highly energetic emotionally now, I found myself seated beside the exit doors on that flight and indicated my disapproval to the flight attendant, standing beside me. She did not even have a chance to respond, when a passenger seated five seats behind me, signals by hand that she would be happy to switch seats with me.
To my relief, the plane was still empty, as was the row of seats I was slipping into next to the window. I closed my eyes for a few minutes, to regain composure, yet again, and as I opened them, the man I had noticed looking at me at Frankfurt International, and who seemingly had an hilarious outburst on my account in the queue at check-in, was now placing his hand-luggage in the overhead compartment right above me. His piercing, blue eyes, and dashingly attractive smile, melted my resolve and without thinking of the experience I’d just left behind in Germany, smiled brightly, as if my life depended on it. I looked at him in complete disbelief, and wondered whether this was an ‘orchestra of sympathy’ bestowed upon me by Providence? You must be exhausted pushing around that luggage? His playful manner arresting my attention almost immediately.
‘Don’t disarm me. I haven’t forgotten how you laughed at the check-in queue’, I heard myself flirt back, as he sat down right next to me.
We laughed again, both secretly relieved to be seated next to the other, speaking briefly for a few minutes, and falling asleep, as if we had done this a million times. The exchange between us for the last hour on this flight, foreshadowed, the most beautiful love experience I had ever encountered, with anyone.
This man is now my fiancé, my most intimate friend, my confidante, my lover, my dream and the healer of my soul. It is my aim, through this true story, to inspire those who have lost hope.
Copyright © November 2010