FSL: DANIEL

In my short 23 years of life I have had the privilege to meet some of the strangest, beautiful, craziest, and memorable people. In this series of posts I will tell of the times we met, fell in love, had brief moment encounters, or just a funny story of these

FRIENDS, LOVERS, AND STRANGERS.

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I was running late for a flight out of LAX back to Orlando to finish up my last week in the Disney College Program. He was running late to catch a flight back to Orlando to see his family. This would be his first time back in five years.

I frantically made my way through the airway tunnel sweating through all the layers of clothes I couldn’t fit in my carry on. I look down the aisle and count while I am searching for my seat. To my surprise there was the cutest little plump boy staring out the window in my seat. His mother sat next to him pointing to something outside of the plane.

Feeling a bit awkward by the situation I clear my throat and say, “Excuse me, I think there may be a bit of confusion. I am seat 25F.”

The mother shot me a glaring look and promptly replied in an annoyed tone, “Well I’m sorry but someone took our seat.”

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Of course I apologize like it was my fault and walked to the back of the plane to explain to the flight attendant. She assured me all was to be taken care of ran to the middle of the plane. I get the wave to come back. That’s when I first saw Daniel.

As we watched the mother and son reluctantly get up from their seats, we both offered to sit somewhere else. Again the flight attendant boldly told both of us that, “You will sit in your assigned seats.” I gave the flight attendant an appreciative head nod and shuffled my way to the window. Daniel followed right behind me.

I was in a giving mood and even offered up my coveted window seat for his squished middle seat. He laughed and replied, “I am good, I’m just happy to be sitting. I didn’t think I would make this flight.” I laughed right on along and explained my hectic journey to get to the airport on time. Of course our reason was the same; we both assumed we had a lot more time than we really did to get airport.

We start to strip off layers of clothes while we got settled into our seats. And that’s when I creepily started analyzing him; sweet looking face, baby blue eyes. This guy was adorable. Someone you always see in the terminal and hope that you sit next too. Then some gushy, extremely unrealistic love affair starts.

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Well that just wasn’t the case with Daniel. He was open and talkative. It was comforting and seemed like two old school friends picking up where they left off. Before the plane had even taken off we already exchanged the small talk.

He was originally from Tennessee and right after graduating high school he went to the Marines. He just got out after five years of serving his country and being in control of small group of men. He found himself moving to California to pursue his love of art.

“I’m artistic,” he answered when I asked what he went to school for. I chuckled at the way he said it and thought how strange it was because it seemed to be completely opposite of his macho Marines story. He was attending the Art Institute in Costa Mesa for graphic design or something along those lines.

The lights started to dim in the cabin because we were on a red-eye. It was both of our cues to slowly let the conversation trail off. I shuffled around and put my head against the window. A flickering light caught my attention so I glanced over. On his Android he had started Guardians of the Galaxy, which had been my current obsession at the time. I drifted off into an uncomfortable sleep with Jack Johnson in my ear.

I woke up to an announcement that we would be landing soon and I did the tiniest cat stretch in my awkward seat. He was squinting; the announcement took him by surprise too. We catch each other’s eye, take out our headphones and just like before the conversation rolled on.

Talking about the turbulence was first on the list. He told me he slept like a baby, which I found that hard to believe considering he was tossing and turning the whole flight. We began to descend and landed safely. Then came the frantic scrambled for everyone to grab his or her carry-ons.

Neither of us moved, instead we started unraveling our headphones to slip them in while we go our separate ways in the airport. He started chuckling to himself and handed me one of his headphones. This is when I first heard of his girlfriend.

“She’s hilarious,” he started. “She’s 5’3, little Asian girl. She is so funny, seriously.” I start to think… how odd, I sort of fit that description. He was gazing forward like he was thinking of a funny memory of her. It was pretty damn cute.

“She is always dancing all crazy to this song,” he continues. I take the headphone and as I bring it up to my ear I can hear loud blaring rap. I don’t F*ck with you. You little stupid a** b*tch. I ain’t f*ckin with YOUUU. I’m grinning now because I know the memory is of this little Asian busting out to this song. He adores her.

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I ask how they met. He nervously laughs, “Well, Tinder actually.”

Oh Tinder, the ultimate matchmaker for one-night stands and actual loving long term relationships. I assured him that there is nothing wrong with that and go into some story of friends I know in committed happy relationships from Tinder.

Finally it is our turn to get up and grab our carry-ons. He grabs his and starts to walk off; I am cut off by the mother and son and reluctantly let a few more people go ahead. Once I grab my bag I walk down the aisle thinking he is for sure gone and I should have asked for some sort of contact.

I walk down the airway tunnel and there he is standing there waiting for me. Again, just like that conversation restarts. We both try to figure out where the heck we are supposed to go. We walk towards baggage claim only to realize neither of us checked a bag. Time was dwindling and goodbyes were next.

I turn to him and say, “I know this is weird but I feel like I need to hug you goodbye…” He laughed, agreeing with me. With a quick, firm hug we went our separate ways. “Have fun at Disney, maybe I’ll see you when I go,” he yelled. I replied, “I’ll try to make you a Magical Moment.” He started walking back to the escalator and that was the last time I saw Daniel.

giphy (18)Until… Three weeks later I finally made my way back to sunny Southern California. I haven’t been on Tinder in months, since I first got to Orlando. I decided to just scan through, after a few minutes of Tindering I was bored.

Okay, one last swipe. Low and behold, there pops up Daniel; pale skin, sweet blue eyes. I was in shock. I open his profile and it said he hadn’t been on for three months. I swipe right and it was a match. He must have found me around the same time he found his future girlfriend. What are the chances.

It’s encounters like these that make the world feel so small. But it’s a pretty sweet feeling.

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