|A Short Travel Story
2002 by Darrin Blanchette
Unsure of whether it was my nerves that were making me shiver, or if it was the strong, blustery wind, so common on the eighty-sixth floor of a skyscraper in a busy northeastern city in February that was to blame, I walked along the guardrail. The quietness of the elevation, in contrast with the buzzing of the liveliest place on earth down below, was enabling me to concentrate on what was to be a major decision in my life.
The first time we met, not even two years earlier, was an experience in itself. I was entering my thirties and felt myself a battle-worn person of sorts, having spent nearly half of my life serving my country. Looking back, I saw myself as a carefree, live-for-the-moment, and somewhat a rebel during my upbringing. The initial day we viewed each other for the first time, I had considered myself a highly disciplined, patient and understanding member of our society. I had lost future dreams concocted in my youth, lived in, loved and tried to understand many foreign countries, participated in wars and other campaigns, and participated in a marriage of convenience. Still, I was happy in my existence due to bringing two wonderful children into our future, and knowing that I was doing a noble thing in my job.
She was just entering her twenties, and although over ten years behind me, had already had lived through enough emotional experiences to be able to teach me a few things about life. Yet, she still displayed a glowing and youthful blossom that first day we met; a smile not only in her mouth, but sparkling in her eyes, that lit up the whole place, even though we were outside.
Whoa! Hold it right there! I was just having a delusion that this young, beautiful redhead, with soft looking skin and a gorgeous, sexy nape was eying me back, right? I was too old; she was too young. We both should have been considered off-limits to each other based on much of others and societies standards. So chalk it up to just another fantasy about an older man, younger woman scenario.
And it felt good! I no longer felt the dragging of my profession and my life while dating (youthful giggle!!) again. So much different from each other, yet being able to understand what life has brought upon the other, it seemed like our minds and hearts were interchangeable - what do they call that feeling?
It was less than a year from the end of the marriage, and also less than a year from the beginning of a new relationship. This was a year of significant emotional events, from being way down almost to depression and heavy drinking, to elation and the feeling of youthful abandon. However, I still do not want to be another statistic.
The second Thursday in February, I decided to give her a surprise. Traveling down to Jacksonville the next afternoon to spend time at the ocean, I took a right turn into the international airport. Imagine the wide-open excited eyes of a child encountering a new adventure - she had never been on a plane before and when told that we were boarding an airplane, the display of elation on her face made life worthwhile right there.
We were going to fly!
With the turbulence of a roller coaster, we finally met the ground in the "City That Never Sleeps," and were met by Senora Carmen, a longtime friend of mine. The weather change was more noticeable by my traveling companion than me, being that she had spent her whole life in the Deep South, never traveling up the northern corridor. Having only two days to live the different lifestyle of a New Yorker, we refused to stop. Like ants discovering a fallen ice cream cone, we eagerly moved back and forth, from place to place discovering all that was new and big in the city. We eventually ended up over a quarter mile up above the city, enjoying the view, just as Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan did in Sleepless in Seattle, atop the observatory floor of the Empire State Building.
Many thoughts sped through my mind as I walked the corridor alone among millions. The feeling of "interchangeable hearts and minds" is the finding of your soul mate. Could this be the one that I have been searching for my whole life? Or is this just a rebound, an older man's fantasy come true? My mind did a tightrope walk as I considered the options. I pray for some clarity to my dilemma.
With the foreshadowing of the Twin Towers in the background, I bend down to one knee, ask her to be mine forever..........and wait. A chill speeds down my spine, further escalating my fears. Is it cold? What comes out of her mouth will answer many questions for me, along with bringing my heart back to humanity.
All I ask for is an answer.
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