As Gate B13 began to grow more and more crowded I saw them. Flaunting their flower shirts, rocking their socks and sandals, camera in hand or around their necks. I see them, the tourists, taking pictures with their camera phones, taking pictures of the airline sign that says ‘Grand Cayman’. Ridiculous, I thought to myself, I suppose this sense of superiority comes from the fact that I’m not American and I am not going on a trip to the Caribbean for shits and giggles. This is my home. These people are headed there to indulge the 18 year-old drinking age, the tax free shopping and the beautiful crop of men we have raised so well. I’m headed there to try to heal my broken heart.
I suddenly heard the choppy and chipper flight attendant over the intercom. ‘American Airlines is now welcoming guests in groups 1 through 3 to board’. Finally, I had been in this airport with this people too fucking long. I grab my bags and move towards the line.
Over my blasting headphones I still manage to hear ‘Oh My Gawd, I cannot wait to drink my fucking face off and fuck a sexy island boy’
I looked over to confirm my suspicion that it was some stupid girl. Suspicion confirmed. I turned to see a very tan, (spray tan of course) girl squawking into her phone. Her hair was so blonde it was almost white. I began to think about how she’ll exaggerate her vacation to her friends back home. Telling them of hook-ups and fights that only exist in her brain. She’ll probably end up sitting in her 5 star hotel room, drinking champagne in the room robe. If she’s daring enough, maybe she will actually go get a real tan. She’s wearing shorts and heels and of course a strappy shirt. Petite and cute, we all know her type. Everyone knows her type. He left me for her type.
At least once I’m on the plane I can level off, drift away for a while. As I settled into my seat I desperately try to tune out blondie’s high-pitched voice. I put my headphones in and shut my eyes.
‘Someone sitting here?’
‘Huh?’ I looked up to see a really tall guy smiling down at me.
‘Is someone sitting here?’ He repeated slower, gesturing toward the seat that my backpack was comfortably nestled in.
‘Oh, no, yes, sit, sorry!’ I quickly moved my bag shoving it under the seat in front of me. As he sat down his cologne flowed into my nasal passages. Lacoste; from the blue bottle. I shut my eyes blinking back tears.
I hated my sense of smell for turning on me. I buried my head into my shirt collar, wiping tears before they fell to far. The tall guy must’ve noticed, he started to shift slightly away from me.
‘I didn’t think I smelled that bad, I mean I took my monthly shower.’ He joked.
I looked at him and he saw the tears in my eyes, his smiled slightly faded.
‘Wow, I must smell awful’
‘No, no, no, I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s me’
‘Breaking up with me already? I didn’t know we were that serious’
At this point he was still smiling, his smile was so beautiful, taking up most of his face.
‘I’m sorry.’ I gave him a small smile and went back to staring out the window. I drifted off to sleep for a bit, but then I felt a gentle nudge.
‘Ma’am, Ma’am, in the event of an emergency would you operate the door?’
She repeated the question slowly, I groggily agreed and then she continued asking the rest of the emergency exit row. Tall and Smiley obviously responded graciously and cheerily.
‘Yes, of course!’ with a low and sweet voice, just like his used to sound.
Great, how wonderful, my own personal reminder of him, right next to me. Fuck.
Four hours on a plane next to Mr. Blue Skies, while all I wanted to do was wallow in the Gray Cloud that had been over my head for the last week. Somewhere between concentrating on not thinking about him and bitching to myself about Mr. Tall & Happy next to me I fell asleep. I weaved in and out of dreams, some making sense; others were just a false sense of ecstasy. Dreams of euphoria and comfortable lies lingered in my head and as sleep slowly evaporated, the tears returned.
I forced myself back to sleep a few times. I wanted to sleep through each kiss I would never feel again and every touch I would kill myself to forget. I wake up with all these feelings I had suppressed just so I wouldn’t have to face losing him, even though I knew he was gone. I woke up and the tears came, full force. Ricocheting off the tray table and window. I looked around, while scraping at my face to erase the evidence of emotion. Mr. Tall and Smiley was sitting very still, looking straight at me.
‘Why are you so sad?’
‘Well, my heart was borrowed, then returned broken and I don’t know how to fix it.’
I quickly looked away, putting in my headphones, shocked at my sudden outpouring of information to a complete stranger. I pressed play on my iPod. Pink’s rough voice came through the earbuds. I’m safe up high. I paused it. Thinking for a minute, I don’t know if she meant spatially high, as in a tree or rooftop or even a plane, or if she was referring to the high that comes from self-medication. I wished at that point in time I could find somewhere that I felt nothing could touch me.. I felt my earbud fall from my ear, as I reached to put it back in Mr. Tall and Annoying grabbed my hand.
‘I know you’re not listening to music, talk to me’
‘Why? I don’t even know you’
‘Because, you need to talk to someone and sometimes there are things that you can only share with people who don’t know you. I also think it would be more painful for you to sit on this plane for the next few hours lost in your thoughts than for you to tell me how much you hate the bastard who hurt you. Or the bitch who hurt you?’
‘Bastard’ I told him quietly.
‘Oh, so does this abomination of a man have a name?’
After some thought I said, ‘No, Bastard is fine’
‘Okay, Bastard it is. What did Bastard do?’
I paused at this point, debating whether or not to go on, whether or not to humor him. Humoring him would be reliving the pain. I decided it couldn’t possibly hurt anymore than it already did.
‘Well, I was dating him for 2 and a half years. Well, we were dating each other, I wasn’t just dating him, he was dating me back. He loved me. Well, he said he loved me. We dated for 2 and a half years and then right before summer vacation, this happened about a week ago, he told me it was over. Just like that, ‘we’re over’ he said. Just casually, like we were playing a game of air hockey, or it was the end of a movie. I asked him why and he said ‘I met someone’. Wasn’t I the person he had met? We talked about marriage, and buying an apartment together. Then he meets someone? Two days later I saw him with her at a movie theater, turns out the some one he had met was my roommate. I was there alone and he saw me, and I turned and ran back to my car. He followed me to my car where he found me crying. He said ‘I didn’t want you to find out like this’. He walked away. That was the last time I saw him. He just walked away, threw away 2 and a half years. GOD! 2 and a half years, that’s forever in goldfish years, I gave him my all and he put it through a meat grinder. And I haven’t told anyone yet because I kept going around like a stupid idiot telling everyone we were gonna get married and live together, my family loves him.’
Mr. Tall and Caring sat for a while, seemingly dumbfounded. Then an emotion emerged across his face, it was anger.
I quickly added, ‘It doesn’t matter anyway, stuff like this happens all the time.’
‘No, no, it doesn’t’ He said quietly.
‘Yes, it does, in all the movies…’
‘Movies do not represent real life, and hell yes, in every movie there is a stupid, fucking asshole that rips out some poor innocent girl’s heart and, yes there are many that dance all over it, then walk away as if it’s nothing. But believe me there are a lot less of us in real life than there are in the movies.’
‘Right.’ Damn my sarcasm.
‘How bout you tell me about these movies, and then you point out a guy in real life who does that?’
We did this for a while, and as I named more and more movies I began to realize that Mr. Tall and Smart was right. There is always that one asshole, but not all guys are like that. We talked about movies and books. I discovered that he went to Boston University as well. He was visiting an Aunt in Cayman and would be there the whole summer. As the plane began to descend I realized that for the last 2 hours of the flight I hadn’t thought about that bastard once. I hadn’t looked at my watch. Suddenly I felt like I might actually survive.
As I walked down the stairs into the customs area of the airport I breathed in the island air with a smile on my face. I looked back to see Mr. Tall and Smiley carrying my headphones and iPod that I had forgotten on the plane.
‘Have a good time at home.’ He smiled and then walked away.
I went through the familiar process of getting my luggage and going through the airport lines. I walked through the sliding doors to see my family standing there with a Welcome Home sign. I smiled knowing that the people who really mattered loved me. As I was driving away in my car I went to put my iPod into the iTrip, I noticed as I was detangling the headphones that there was a paper caught in them. I unfolded the paper and found it was a note that read: ‘We’re not all assholes – Greg’, under that was a local number for him. I think I may give Mr. Tall and Greg a call.