Alaska Airlines claims the flight from Yakima, Washington, to Seattle is only about 43 minutes. This is a lie. The actual flight takes 17 minutes, but you end up spending more time on the landing strip than you do in the air. Still, I was terrified. I had only ever been on a flight once, and I could barely remember it. And this flight wasn’t even the worst part. I was using it as practice for my real flight from SeaTac to London Heathrow in a couple of days.
It was sometime between trying to deep-breathe inconspicuously and trying to unlock my hands from around the armrests in the terminal that I saw a cute boy who looked like he ought to be in a band. He was dressed in not-too-tight skinny jeans and rocking a dark hoodie and earbuds. My hands relaxed and the first thought that crept into my mind was: I hope I get to sit next to him! It wasn’t entirely impossible; he was traveling alone and I had chosen to bypass the window seat in favor of keeping my stomach from plummeting every time I looked out the window. Boys like the window seat, right?
I walked on to the tiny airplane to find Cute Band Boy sitting in the seat next to mine.
“Hey,” I said and sat down.
He responded with a quick smile as he shut down his iPhone and wrapped the white cord around its body.
“If there is an emergency, we will usher everyone off and then come back for you,” the stewardess said to the nearby girl in the wheelchair. Cute Band Boy and I gave each other looks of horror.
“That’s terrible!” he whispered.
“Right? This is my first time flying in over half my life and she” I pointed as I whispered back, “is not helping!”
“You’ve never flown?”
“Kind of, but I don’t really remember it.”
“Then you won’t want to read that,” he said, and pointed to the pamphlet I pulled out from the pocket of the seat in front of me.
“Or that.” And pointed to the sign that instructed how I was to use my seat as a flotation safety device. “But don’t worry, we don’t fly over water.”
Oh that makes me feel better, I thought, instead we’ll just crash into the Cascade Mountains. “I’m letting you know now that if we start to plunge, I will unashamedly grab your hand and scream,” I said with all seriousness.
He smiled. “I’m James.”
“Krystal,” I said.
The flight took off and we began to discuss where we were headed to after arriving in Seattle. He was transferring to a flight that would take him back to his part-time home in Vancouver, BC, and I was visiting family before gearing up and flying out a my three-week course studying art and culture in London.
The conversation lulled, and then the turbulence hit.
I saw him shoot me a look of concern, and without missing a beat, he asked, “Do you want to hear a funny story?”
“Sure,” I said
“Well, I guess it’s not that funny. But….” Apparently he had gone to a Casino in Yakima with his stepdad and the girl had ID’d him. So instead of confusing her with his Canadian driver’s license, he pulled out his passport. She just looked at him, having absolutely no idea what to do with it. “She had never seen a passport before!”
The plane started rocking hard and I needed another distraction. “What exactly does a Canadian driver’s license look like?” I asked. He pulled out his wallet from his pocket and gave me the card.
This was my chance; suddenly against all odds the pieces were fitting together. I would actually get to find out who this James fellow was. I knew that he was senior in college, but had said he switched majors at least three times and took some time off, so I had no idea how old this guy was.
I looked at the card and instantly the bright blue bar at the top caught me off guard. Wow, who designed this?! I thought as I began to scrutinize the card in my palm. Apparently British Columbia is “The Best Place on Earth,” or so the cheesy logo claimed. The background texture seemed to mimic some old man’s crumpled sweater, a repulsive effect compounded by the faded yellow to faded red color gradient. A blue mountain range unexplainably suspended in mid air was complimented by a black-and-white photograph of Cute Band Boy. I couldn’t stand to look at it any longer without making a sarcastic remark, so I handed it back to him.
Immediately I realized my mistake.
It was the perfect moment, something out of a teen fiction. Fate had placed me next to a cute boy who told me funny stories about international travel to ease my fear of flying. He handed me an official document containing all his personal information and what did I do? I let my inner graphic design nerd come to life and I forgot all about trying to learn more about him. So here’s to you, James, the cute boy from Vancouver who looks like he ought to be in a band and let me see all of his vital information. I didn’t read it because I was distracted by the sub-par design of something I could’ve looked up online. Huzzah.