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Between worrying about getting airsick or getting my foot stuck in my mouth from our shallow but hilarious conversations, I let my mind wander as I tried to think. And plan. And just figure out why I had hopped on the plane in the first place.
For the most part, my life was figured out. I was going to college back East and about to start my fourth and final year of courses. I had friends, roommates, and parents who--while they were very supportive--were more often than not a little too invested in my life. It comes with being the only child, I guess.
But it was summer and after a stressful few weekends working under my mom at her local second-hand boutique, I was ready to just be done with it all. I wanted to get out and be done with inventorying women's scarves. So when my aunt asked if I wanted to be a nanny for her kids for the summer, I jumped on the opportunity without thinking twice. I had no experience with kids and had only been to California once, but at least I would get some time away from my life--and possibly get a chance to visit Disneyland and see if it really is the happiest place on earth.
My seatmate, on the other hand, seemed to have everything in his life figured out. Or at least he acted that way. Even though he seemed pretty wide awake, he had dozed off not even an hour into the flight.
I pulled out my journal and started scribbling down notes and thoughts. And that's when I felt someone looking over my shoulder. I wrote one last sentence in the journal and then turned to look at him.
"Sorry, I err, well, I guess you caught me red-handed." He cleared his throat and ran his hand through his hair again.
Except it was not going to work on me this time around. Suddenly this seatmate of mine was turning into more of a nuisance than a dream come true. I looked away and didn't know what to say.
You're pretty good at pretending to be asleep, you know that?" I didn't mean to come across as so snarky (especially to a stranger), but I couldn't help it. He was reading my journal. No one reads my journal. No one.
"Sorry, Liza. I didn't mean to. You just reminded me of someone and being so mysterious, well, I couldn't help," he smiled weakly.
"Who do I remind you of?" I replied. I rubbed my fingers up and down the edges of my journal and clicked my ballpoint pen.
"It'll sound weird--but then again, apparently you already think I am--but you remind me a lot of my mom."
I looked at him and opened my mouth to speak. "I guess that's better than saying I remind you of your hot wife or mean stepsister or something."
He laughed and the man sitting on his other side let out a soft snore in his sleep.
"Seeing as I don't have either, you're safe this time around."
I couldn't help but smile. "So tell me more about your mom."
"She was a simple person. Simple in personality, simple in lifestyle, just simple. She juggled writing a food column for a magazine and raised me and my younger siblings and forced us to pursue our dreams, no matter what." He looked forward and then nodded and politely smiled at the flight attendant walking down the aisle.
"And you think that describes me?" I asked.
"Sure," he answered. He readjusted his position in his seat, likely uncomfortable from sitting so long like I was.
"Like I said, you're mysterious, Liza. You're most definitely not an open book. And I like that. My mom was the same way. She never shared much about her past or my father or even..." He looked right into my eyes and I started to feel a little uncomfortable.
"Your mom sounds like an amazing woman. So are you visiting her out in LA?"
"Actually, she passed away two years ago."
"Oh no, I am so sorry, Jeremy. I didn't mean to, I mean, I didn't know. I'm sorry." Sorry wasn't enough, though, and we both knew it.
"Don't worry about it. Really, don't. You had no idea." We both looked away and then he started speaking again. But I interrupted him before a word could escape his mouth.
"I feel like it's my turn now. I think it's my turn to talk. This way I don't humiliate myself any further," I needed to lighten the mood and at least Jeremy wasn't nearly as creepy as I once thought.
"I'm headed to LA. Well, not LA, per se, but nearby. Unlike you, my mom is kind of a nut and I need some time away from her. It sounds rude to say this--especially seeing as you've lost your mom--but I just couldn't take it any more. I could use another word to describe her, but there are kids on the plane, and I don't want the air marshal to arrest me."
The edges of his mouth turned to smile and he let out a muffled chuckle.
"You've got my mom's sense of humor."
My cheeks flushed. And I pulled my ponytail a little tighter trying to diffuse the flirting that we both knew was going on.
"I'm pregnant," I stammered. I had no idea why I let that out of my mouth, but I couldn't take it back anymore.
I looked into his eyes as I said it and just noticed how crystal blue they were. Why did I just let that little detail slip from my mouth?