When I was young, traveling held a mystery that surpassed my fear of flying. I loved everything about traveling, including getting to the airport early and sitting at my gate or in the airport bar and jotting down bits of overhead conversations or randomly chatting with a fellow traveler about who they were and where they were going.
Somewhere in my thirties my fear of falling through the air or getting mid-flight appendicitis overtook my love of the experience of getting a glimpse into the lives of strangers and all the possibilities that travel encompassed. I went on this way for most of my thirties… frantically timing popping a Xanax for optimum relaxation just before we boarded.
Then my business partner/aunt Delilah who I fly with often for work started developing the fear of flying I’d come to know so well. When challenged with being in the position of being one-half of two people freaking out or being the person trying to calm the person freaking out down, I somehow naturally ended up being the later. It’s not that my fear of flying is completely gone but it’s hard for me to hold onto it as I’m trying to calm someone else who is just about to jump out of her seat when a bit of turbulence hits.
In Delilah and my partnership, she is the problem solver in most emergency situations and usually the one who is telling me that everything is going to be okay. So I jumped at the chance to return the favor at 30,000 feet and it was a welcome distraction from my own anxiety and ridiculously sweating palms.
I decided to turn the last leg of a recent trip we took to the Pacific Northwest for a conference into a mini-vacation with my husband. I coordinated Delilah’s departure flight almost perfectly with my husband’s arrival but I had an hour to waste in the airport. Maybe it was because I didn’t have to get on a flight that day or maybe it was because Delilah’s recently acquired fear of flying made me lose some of my own, but for some reason that day, the airport held that same sense of adventure and possibility of lives lived so far apart merging for one moment that I loved when I was young.
I sat at the gate and watched people pass by weighted down with luggage or children, who seemed to float parts of themselves to me. Heady musky cologne. The sanitary cleanliness of the pink hand soap in the ladies room. The crinkling sound of deli-case sandwiches being unwrapped. I took it all in and felt more present, more in the moment than I had for a long time.
Then I sat down at the gate to wait for my husband and opened the book I was reading, “The $100 Startup“. A man sat down next to me, asked me what I was reading and I told him about my love for this incredible book that not only empowers entrepreneurs but also shares highly usable tips on how to start or grow your business. We talked about why he was waiting at the gate… to meet his fiancé who was flying in from a trip to visit her family in the Philippines. I told him why I was there. We shared stories about business, life and love and before I knew it the time that I had thought would slowly creep by was over and when I saw my husband round the corner it seemed too soon.
Sharing stories with strangers is one of the things that makes me feel alive and connected to this world and often I get that feeling from reading a good book but sometimes a book opens up a door for a conversation and connection as well, like Chris Guillebeau’s The $100 Startup did that day in the airport. Hope you love this month’s Dear Handmade Life book club picks (which you can enter to win below) as much as I do and who knows? Maybe one of them will lead you to the loveliness of a good talk with a stranger too.
To enter the contest:
If you want to win 4 of these books: Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads, Just Us Girls, Buffi’s Dress Design, and Pretty Packages, just leave a comment on this post letting us know what makes you feel alive or connected. Post your comment by March 4th at midnight to be entered to win. Make sure to include your email address so we can get your address and ship you some lovely things to read. We’ll announce the winner here on March 6th.
The contest is now closed. Congrats to Heidi!