December 22, 2004
It was early in the morning. As I got ready I tried to turn on as few lights as possible with the rationale that if I never fully woke up, I'd easily be able to fall back asleep on the plane. No makeup. Hair in a ponytail. Wearing a tee-shirt. Wait…December in Illinois is really cold. I looked around the destruction zone commonly referred to as the bedroom of a college student home on Christmas break about to fly to visit the Grandmas for the holidays. The only thing not packed or sleeveless was a long-sleeved NAU Soccer tee-shirt. It was gray and baggy but it would be warm, and it wasn’t like I was meeting my future husband that day anyway.
We flew from Phoenix to Houston, switched planes and then flew on to Indianapolis. From there my family would rent a car and drive to Illinois. I don’t remember much about the layover except for the usual awkwardness of moving about in a warm airport while trying to manage your purse, carry-on bag, sweater and coat on various modes of airport transportation.
We waited around at the baggage claim. Mom and I guarded our pile of belongings while JP and Dad fished for our checked luggage. I glanced over my shoulder and made eye contact with a man standing several yards away. He was young but older than I was. Very handsome, dark features. He was standing with his own family, wearing a black jacket and an orange scarf. He was sort of leaning back on his heels, arms crossed in front of him. Head tilted back and a very slight smile, which I found intriguing. I don’t know what I did. I might have smiled back. I might have given him a flirtatious look.
He walked past me to grab his bag off the carousel. I noticed that it was a gigantic duffel bag with the ADIDAS brand on it. I had some fleeting thought about a shared interest in sports.
And then he was gone.
We didn't speak. When I flew home a few days later I would look around the waiting area to see if he was on my flight. He wasn’t. He slipped from my mind. I’d never see him again. He’d been A Passing Stranger.
Seven years later I’m flying to Indiana again. The man with the scarf will be in the seat beside me. I'll carry his ring on my finger and our daughter on my lap.