I am nervous. It isn’t only the flight that makes my pulse race, but it is the knowledge that in a few hours, I will be able to look into his eyes, to hear his real voice, to feel his arms around myself and to smell his scent. All for the first time.
This is not my typical self. I was never the adventurous type, I prefer to live my life as straight-forward and predictable as possible.
But then I met him. A lot of things are different with him. We met on the web. It was never really my world and meeting a man and falling in love? That was for fools only. He made the first step, chatting me up and at first it was only meant to be fun and distracting for me. Banter and flirting, where’s the harm in that? Slowly, though, his emails and the photos he sent me day after day, became the highlight of my mornings. And now I sit here. In a tin can that is about to fly me across the ocean and to him, and I just have a one-way ticket.
The plane starts to move and takes me out of my reveries. The flight will be long. There will be time to worry and to be happy and to be afraid too. For now, my hands are clammy as the trees become a blur, and I get pushed into my seat. Takeoff. Silent tears stream down my face. I am not able to stop them, and I am too panicked to make a sound. I look out of the window, grabbing the armrests until my knuckles become white, and I can only see the clear blue sky. I look past the row of other passengers and look out of the opposite window. I can only see green fields. My hands grip the armrest that separates me from the empty seat next to me tighter, and my fingers hurt, but I am not ready to let go of my support. It’s becoming my safety. And then, the plane seems to have reached its travel height. The tension slowly fades away from me, and I breathe, relieved. I am not afraid to fly, its the takeoff that makes me panic and with no one by my side to soothe or distract me, the fear and anxiety I experience in this situation is overwhelming. Once the plane is up in the air, everything is okay. I have to sit by the window, though. I need to see everything around me, the fake control calms me.
I am giving up my old life for him. I sold everything I couldn’t fit into a few bags, I gave up my job and my flat, only to fly into the unknown. A new continent, a different language, no job, no apartment and I have never even met the man in person. He is supposed to take me in and help me get my feet on the ground over there. What, if he doesn’t like me? What if we don’t get along? And what if he is a creep? Before I can rile myself up too badly, I feel my eyelids becoming heavy, and I slowly drift off into a dreamless sleep. At last, the Xanax my sister slipped me in my drink is kicking in.
Next thing I know is that a flight attendant wakes me up and asks me to fasten my seat belt. “We are going to land soon.” Did I actually sleep almost six hours? In a plane? Alone?
The plane lands effortlessly, and I breathe again. It feels like the first deep breath since I woke up this morning. The landing is never as hard for me as the takeoff, because of the pure knowledge that soon there will be solid ground underneath my feet again. I am so weird. But that makes me my loveable self.
People scramble their belongings together and make their ways to the exit, where a flight attendant waits and says goodbye to every single passenger. I like this. It’s nice. It’s normalcy. Polite too.
As soon as I enter the terminal, my heart begins to pound in my chest. The inevitable moment is close. I don’t have to wait long at the baggage claim. For once I wouldn’t have minded to wait, if only to stall and keep the inevitable from happening. I heave my bags on my luggage cart. I hate to steer those things because they never go in the direction I want them to go, but with a bit of effort, lots of strength and one or two choice words, I manage to push it to the exit. Ropes separate the newly arrived from the ones being there to pick them up. My heart beats so fast, it threatens to burst my ribcage. It’s an unpleasant feeling. I see people falling into each other’s arms, crying happy tears and clinging onto each other. Families, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons… Reunited. Different people who arrived at their destination. Not me. I am an alien.
The crowd slowly dissipates, and I am still looking for the one person who is set to pick me up. I’m beginning to fear that he isn’t here, but then, through a group of laughing teenagers, I see a man holding up a poster. SHELLY, it reads. That’s my nickname. It is him. I feel hot, and I smile. I don’t want to do it, but I can’t stop or hide it. It takes me a moment to get my legs moving. They are like lead and trembling as if I had never taken a step before.
At first sight and from the distance, he is even more gorgeous than he was in his pictures. I see him stretching and rising on his tiptoes. He is scanning the crowd with a frown. I can see the exact moment his eyes land on me, and he recognizes me. A bright smile erupts on his face, and I know it is matching my own.
Step by tiny step, we get closer to each other until we both stop in our tracks. Only three steps separate us, and I see his face becoming serious, the smile faded and he is worrying his bottom lip with his teeth. How do I approach him? Are there any rules for this? I am unsure what to do, my instinct tells me to run away from this weird situation, but my body doesn’t want to obey. And I don’t know where to hide anyway. Dreadful moments pass, and I wait. Frozen. Unable to act or react.
“Shelly,” he whispers almost inaudibly, because of the busy people hurrying to get to their planes and the ones hurrying to get home. I nod, not knowing what else to do.
The poster glides from his hands and slides to the floor while he takes another step towards me. Feet are walking over the white sheet of paper. I see it and think for a brief moment that it’s such a waste, then my thoughts are back in the now. The suspense and anticipation are killing me. My heart still races and if nothing happens now, the moment passes, and we will never get it back. And the something inside of me snaps. I can’t contain myself any longer and jump into his arms, laughing out loud. He catches me with ease. He is shorter than I had imagined him to be, but he is still a few inches taller than me. My body fits his perfectly. I bury my nose in his neck and smile when I notice his scent. It is an aphrodisiac. His arms come up and circled my waist almost lifting me off the floor, and I laugh happily. The sound is bubbling out of me. His arms feel like home, and I haven’t even heard him say more than a whisper.
My hands cup his cheeks, and I scan his face. I look into his eyes – beautiful light green eyes. I take a step back, not to walk away, but to get a proper look at him. His cheeks are stubbly, just how I love it, and his ginger hair is cut close to the head, but not too close. He is gorgeous. His lush lower lip begs to be kissed and again, it is me who takes the first step and I kiss him hesitantly. He kisses me back and pulls me closer to him. All of this is shallow, and I know it, it is appearances and superficialities, but I already know the person hiding inside.
Reluctantly, he lets go of me and now, he looks me up and down, making me slightly uncomfortable. Mere moments ago, I did the same to him, and I feel a little ashamed that I did. What does he see when he looks at me?
“Let’s go home,” he says smiling and with a grunt, he gets my luggage cart to move and pushes it towards to parking lot.
Time and time again, we look at each other, only to shyly look away again. We load my bags into his truck, and he comes around to open my door. His truck seems huge, but every car I see here is. I am not in Kansas – sorry, Europe – anymore.
Before I can climb into the massive vehicle, he holds me by the wrist and spins me around. I stumble into his arms, but again, he catches me with ease. He lowers his lips to mine and then, kisses me passionately. I’ve been kissed before – a lot, but I’ve never been kissed like this before. It takes my breath away and leaves a warm feeling inside. My heart skips a beat, and it is as though an electrical shock rushes through my entire body. I am aware of how silly it sounds, even more so because I used to make fun of people saying this. But wow… If I have had moments of doubt about my decision earlier, I am sure now, to be at the right place with the right person.
“I am glad you are here. Finally.” His voice is gentle, but deep and a little hoarse. I like it very much, and I wonder what it will sound like in the morning when he wakes up. It occurs to me that I will hear it soon enough, and it makes me smile again.
“You must be starving. Would you like to go out on a dinner date with me?” he asks formally. It takes me a while to find the right words and my voice, but I accept his invitation. Of course, I do. We seal the agreement to our first official date with a long kiss. A car honks, and we break apart, chuckling like teenagers. We drive off into the sunset. Destination unknown.
(Unedited… I will get to that later…)