My time in Vancouver didn’t last long as I had always planned to spend the first week travelling around Alaska in the RV and it was really just a rendezvous point to meet up with my friend. Knowing that I will return there next week after 8 days in the” Wanderly Wagon” means I have got a bit of time to think about the things I want to see there before moving on to the other side of the country.
Before I left NZ, one of my work colleagues made a smartarse comment about the poor folk who got to sit next to me on a flight. How they wouldn’t be able to get a word in edgeways and to the fact that there may be little they didn’t know when they departed whether they liked it or not! He is a cheeky bastard and on point mostly, but when I sit next to someone my radar generally kicks in and I get a sense if people want to engage or not. For me that’s the neat thing about travelling – not so much the great places you get to see and experience, but the great people you get to meet along the way. You share a moment in time that will never be repeated in most cases. You are on your own journey, coming or going in more ways than one often. It’s an opportunity to be whoever who want to be, show whatever piece of yourself you feel like and in most cases, move on from that moment never to see or hear from each other again.
Then there are those people you sit next to on planes and you know that your paths will cross again sometime. On the three-hour flight from Vancouver to Anchorage, I sat next to one such couple from Masterton in good of God zone NZ. Peter and Debbie were travelling on to Fairbanks and catching a cruise back to Vancouver. I recognized Debbie’s face from the Air NZ flight over. Coincidence would have it that we catch the same flight back to Auckland at the end of the month. They were a well-travelled pair, ex-farming folk and salt of the earth buggers I expect. I learned they had been married for over 40 years and seemed to genuinely enjoy doing stuff together. They had travelled much over that time together and I enjoyed listening to their stories and of their genuine desire to see things in other places. I envied how they had built a tapestry of memories together all woven with a genuine love for each other and adventure. Envious that they had shared so much and were still enjoying each other in their 60’s, – “spending the kids inheritance” as Peter put it. From her Ipad, Deb shared photos of her parents surrounded by celebratory notes from dignitaries such as HRH and the PM of NZ on the recent occasion of their 70th wedding anniversary. They too are still fit and well at 92 & 93 years of age, enjoying a full and active life in a retirement home surrounded by people that love them . For one brief moment looking at those pictures I was smiling on the outside and weeping on the inside. I won’t ever get the telegram from the Queen or the PM , because I have had already had a couple of failed attempts at wedded bliss so time has run out to reach a significant milestone in that sense, but now at 52 that doesn’t stop me hoping that one day Mr Right will waltz into my life, we will roar off into the sunset and live happily ever after.
I thought he may have just been on the flight actually – in a form of a handsome steward named Jon. He bounced along the aisle tending to the passengers and after a rather flirtatious engagement and a few laughs, I asked if he had any friends that might be suitable tour guides. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said “ I think my friends might be a bit light in the loafer for you madam!”. I stared blankly in bewilderment as I ordered my 2nd glass of bubbles for the day (it was only noon at this stage) knowing I had been lost in translation. Viv who was seated across the aisle from me started to laugh and said turn your gaydar on you fool.
Anyway, Jon arrived back with a bottle of bubbles for each of us and I gave him my card for payment. He looked at me and winked. “I like you, you seem like fun so enjoy this one on the house “. He lowered his voice as I caught a whiff of his delicious cologne and whispered “ you will need to give me your card as I need to look like I am charging you! “ I handed over my card, he appeared to swipe it through the Eftpos machine before giving me a receipt, winking and heading on his merry way. The receipt recorded the purchase of a Kit-Kat bar, my card has never been debited so I can only assume it was in the machine from a previous purchase. The wine was fabulous, so was the company and conversation so I couldn’t ask for anything more – until the bottle was empty that was.
I gave Jon the nod when he next passed, and as he bent down I whispered in his ear, “that was very nice sir, I think I will have another”. He whispered back, I have no bubbles left but would you take a chardonnay madam? “I said with only 50 minutes of a flight left, I will take what I can get!
Five minutes later, bounding down the aisle on those loafers Don appeared with an unopened box of apple juice and carrying two full glasses of liquid that looked suspiciously like apple juice! It tasted like wine, chardonnay in fact and it was just the thing to finish the short flight.
Anyway, the trip was fun and it got me to Anchorage. I know that when I return to NZ and visit my brother in nearby Carterton , Deb, Peter that we will probably raise another glass one day and talk about the time we met on that Air Canada flight.