I took a risk on a plane, and made a new friend.
Flying back from Florida alone, I put my headphones on and listened to what I always do when I am writing on a plane, The Stone Roses. I didn’t notice the person next to me because we were both busy on our laptops. As they were in my field of vision, I did happen to notice she had a very nice manicure. I rarely have presentable nails/hands. I have paws. So, I admired her well-kept hands.
During the drink order I did notice my seat-mate looked like a Norse Goddess. I’m not being romantic, she really does look like a Norse Goddess. Easily a head taller than I am, blond, bombshell. But, she was clearly my age, too. Relatable not intimidating. One thing led to another and something happened that made us pause in our work and start to talk. I can’t remember what it was. But, we started talking about our kids, same general ages, our husbands, same general age, and our interests, varied. She is a landscape designer, and works with large, national nurseries. I am into gardening and the horticulture chair for my garden club. Plenty to talk about. The beauty of age is that you have stories to tell and so does she.
“Gummies or wine?” This is worth discussing…
It was a treat to talk to a stranger on a plane while traveling alone. No past history, no expectations. Just easy conversation about whatever was on our minds. And, as I said above, that tended to be our nearly flown kids and ourselves as women living in our current bodies at our current ages. Key in our thoughts was “what’s next?” We both had general ideas of what we might be doing. But, it’s hard to tell what will really stick. Some nearly empty nesters seem to know their plan for years: We will move from this house. We will leave the suburbs for the city. We will move to this state. I will retire. I will leave this person.
Side track! when I left for college at 18 my parents were about 42, one of my four parents was only 33. In my case, I was 54 when my youngest went. That’s a generation of difference in age. Imagine the difference in planing! Imagine the amount of free time my parents had to do whatever they wanted to do when I left for college! My Gen-X generation is experiencing a different, older emptying nest. What does that mean?
Back to the plane.
We had an incredibly easy time talking. With a stranger there can be a level of openness in the conversation not allowed for with those close to us. As we got ready to deplane, we exchanged instagrams by taking screen shots and that was that.
I Dm’d her on Instagram and said this first: Hi, R! It’s Kim from the plane! It was really fun to talk to you yesterday. I hope you had a fun dinner. Where did you go? Here is a link to my newest newsletter…love to hear what you think. Let’s stay in touch!
Lots of exclamation marks and some good old fashioned hawking of my wares. Kind of embarrassed about that now. But it got our conversation going and led to my suggestion nearly two weeks later:
Hi! would you be interested in coming to the garden tour? You can work at my garden for free tickets! Wednesday night is the Soiree and it’s gorgeous. Thursday all day is the tour. Here is the link:) Kim
And then she decided to come! I offered for her to stay at our house. And she did!
I wasn’t worried about making a turkey of myself. In fact, I was pretty sure she’d want to come. She had all my info and I had hers via the Internet machine. The garden tour wasn’t for a couple of months, plenty of time for plans to change. A few weeks to go and I got in touch again. Still on! We talked on the phone, too. We had not spoken to each other since the plane ride. All was just as I had experienced on the plane. Funny, easy going.
Meanwhile, my family was like, “You invited who to what?!” And, “You met her on a plane?!” They referred to her as “The Stranger.” I guess she was mostly unknown to me. Mind you, I do have a habit of collecting strangers. I hate crowds, but I like strangers. Many times, the strangers I start talking to are around my own kids’ ages. They tend to be traveling alone etc. It’s fun talking to young people you aren’t responsible for. As the elder, I cut the young ‘un slack. I may even listen better to a stranger than my own kids (it’d be rude not to and I have never heard what they are about to say to me). You know you do it too. I have given out my card to people when I am far away and say “If you’re in Boston, look us up!” No one ever does.
Women's Survival Guide! It’s kinda “wow!” kinda “Now!” Join the fun!
But this time, I thought I might actually see my new friend again. As I said, she is a landscape designer. I was about to have my own garden on my neighborhood garden club tour that is 93 years old. It’s an experience and makes for excellent snooping! I mentioned it to her on the flight, I think.
At some point during the day of the tour someone asked us, “how did you meet?” We had to laugh. It’s not everyday you can say “we met on a plane and had a half hour convo a month ago.”
Before she left for home, we joked about how we met and that she actually came. That our families thought we had lost it. That we were each opening ourselves up to new people. She said her new goal was to say '“yes” to invitations. I get what she means. It’s easier to stay home, but makes for a lot less interesting life. Imagine if we had not bothered talking to each other?
Everyone loved my new friend. She did work in the garden all day and hung out with my mom and mother in law and general family, met my friends. we went out after the soiree and whooped it up a bit. I think we all had an adventure! So, with safety in mind, don’t be afraid to talk to the person next to you. You never know what fun might lie ahead!
That’s all for now, lots more next week!
“Gummies or wine?” This is worth discussing…I am curious
I love your writing Kim. 💗