The Neon Travelator.
I saw you today. I know you saw me too. I’m sure O’Hare International was the last place you ever expected to see me. How cinematic to see an old friend on a neon lit moving walkway? Was your flight at C18? If so, that was my plane. I always leave my boarding pass in the pocket, hoping to spur a coincidence.
Perhaps that is all today was. You looked good though. Even just for a wave, seeing you was amazing. I could tell you were in a hurry so don’t feel bad for not waving back. I felt goofy but that’s why I took the bartender up on her shot and a beer special just now.
I’m rather excited to be getting drunk in terminal 3. I’m sure you remember the running scene in Home Alone, but do you recall that day when we had to watch it for the third time in a summer? I kept your sharpie drawings on my leg all week long.
Every time I drop my kids off at camp I am overwhelmed with memories. I see the counselors at the sign-in table, the spin-the-bottle bleachers, and the lawn where we would have the campers pass our notes. Sign-ins are done via tablet these days but I still bring a pen with me. Force of habit since all you ever had was a sharpie in your pocket.
Your face took me a minute to register. After so many years, I finally forgot about you. Once it clicked, 867–5309/Jenny — Tommy Tutone popped in my head. It took forever to hide that song from my memory, since you got it stuck there originally it must have been unleashed with the others.
The things that we try so hard to forget stick with us the most. It isn’t until that one hangover when the final active brain cell containing the memory is finally gone.
People become long lost memories and I‘ve always assumed I never really was much of a memory for you. Today validated that for me. That look you gave me, it reminded me of the look you’d shoot me as that pen touched my leg. You were testing me, seeing if I would get frustrated. Even now, I’m unsure if my face registered for you or if your gut reaction was to do that.
It is that painful way of flirting that made me fall for you, and what eventually I would come to accept was just your way of being. For it wasn’t really ever flirting, or so I tell myself years later. An old man rehashing missed opportunities.
I’ve got one more flight after this one. Bound for Denver out of Los Angeles. My frustration for the 2,016 mile detour vanished when I saw you, thank you for that. This layover will be drank away, what else does one do when the past suddenly appears? I could have jumped over the hand rails, chased you down and told you how I feel. But that wouldn’t change a thing, a summer love never actualized. Best keep sleeping dogs at rest, or whatever. We’ve got our lives.
Today, I can’t help but believe in fate. Either that or it is magic that runs the airways.
Lets be honest, it was just a coincidence. One I doubt will happen again. Some moments pass by so quickly it is more like a dream, a ghost, a glitch in the matrix. Gone before they can be enjoyed. Whether or not the moments we shared mean much to you, they were precious to me.
If you really didn’t remember me then I guess this is a creepy letter from a stranger and I’m sorry.
Either way, good luck out on those skyways and thank you for making my day, one last time.