A Letter to the Guy in 12A

Hey 12A,

I intended to spend all eight hours of my flight to Germany writing. I was disappointed to find that the outlet between our seats was not a regular plug, but a cigarette lighter. Upon making this discovery, my laptop slipped to the floor.

“Well, now you don’t need the plug,” you joked. I spent the first hour of the flight quietly laughing at that. But I had enough battery and a WiFi hotspot just long enough to make one final post before take-off, so I got to work, and we didn’t speak again.

That is, until we got wine with dinner. We sat quietly through most of our in-flight meal, until you finally broke the silence by asking if I was a travel writer. Identity is a funny thing, and when someone asks you a question like that, you’re forced to evaluate it on the spot.

So I said yes and asked how you knew. You said you had seen me working on WordPress and posting photos of Chicago. I thought it was bold of you to admit you were spying on my screen and funny that you labeled it “spying” yourself. I was charmed that you thought I did it professionally, based on my use of SEO optimization. But mostly that you would be interested in talking to a girl that’s been wearing the same clothes for 48 hours.

While conversing with you, I remembered who you reminded me of: Gael Garcia Bernal. You wouldn’t know who that is because you don’t remember the names of actors. But if he was German and spoke with a British accent, you could be his twin.

You gave me great advice, since you work in marketing for a travel company. But actually, the most interesting thing about talking to you was the way you talked about rock climbing. And how you like it because it forces you to live in the moment, instead of thinking about the past or the future. “You need to be present,” you said. “Because you need that focus to be able to make your next move.”

When you went to sleep and let me get on with my writing, I realized I had lost half a chapter somehow. But surprisingly, that didn’t bother me so much because I had lost interest in what I had been working on; now I only wanted to write about you.

And how funny it was that you made me say every German phrase I know. And how interesting it is that you’ve lived in Australia and South America. And how you told me all about the insecurities you had when you were younger.¬†And how sweet it was that you offered to help me find my way to Wiesbaden when we landed.

You’re pretty awesome, stranger, and if I don’t talk to you again, I hope you have a great birthday on Friday.

Ana, the travel writer