“Excuse me?” The little old lady across the aisle from me stopped the flight attendant as he walked down the aisle.
“I’m flying to Cabo,” she explained, holding out her itinerary, “and I don’t know what gate I need to go to. Do I need to go through security again? I only have 37 minutes.”
The flight attendant squatted down on the floor and looked her itinerary. He held up four fingers and pointed to the pinky finger, “we will be landing in the high B’s,” he explained, “next you have the low B’s,” pointing at his ring finger, “after that is the low A’s, then the high A’s,” he pointed at his middle and pointer fingers, respectively. You are flying out of gate A7 so you will need to go to the low A’s,” he told her pointing again to his middle finger and wiggling it. “You will make two rights.”
“OK! A right and then a right.” She repeated, wide-eyed.
“Do I need to show my bags again?”
“No, we trust you.”
“I just don’t want to get lost, I’m meeting my daughter in Cabo, she thinks I’m going to get lost.”
I stopped the book I was reading and leaned over, “Ma’am, I can walk you to your gate, I have a long layover.”
“I would really appreciate that,” she said with a smile.
“I’m Sally,” I reached out my hand, first to Steven and then to Liz.
“Thank you, Sally,” said Steven, he stood up and walked away, his work there was done.
“So do you live in Monterey?” I asked Liz.
“Yes! I grew up there actually.”
“Me too!” I told her.
And so for the rest of the flight we chatted, I heard her beautiful life story. She told me about her four children, her home that she recently remodeled, all the jobs she has held, her late husband and their life together. She was full of wisdom and a zest for life that was palpable. “Everything is an adventure!” She would say. She explained that “life doesn’t stop” in reference to her life after her husband’s death “life continues!”
“Are you Italian?” She asked me.
“No,” I responded, “I’m Syrian. Are you Italian.”
“You know I am but I’m from everywhere, I am the universe.”
She asked about my life plans, how I liked Monterey, she told me how she had been a hair stylist at the old San Carlos Hotel that was where the Marriott stands today. She said that to this day she cuts hair for little old ladies who can’t leave the house, “me, I’m not a little old lady!” She threw her head back laughing.
When we landed, we walked off the plane together and walked to the moving sidewalk, “let’s take this,” she said.
When we got off, and approached the next one she said, “I’d like to just walk, I think I’m faster than the moving one.” So we walked and talked, she told me about her grandchildren and her son and his recent divorce, “you know what I told him? Dust yourself off and get back on the horse. That’s what I believe, don’t let set backs bring you down!”
When we arrived to her gate, we confirmed that we were in the right place, checking her itinerary to the reader board.
“Come, give me a hug,” she waved me into here. And so I leaned down and gave her a big hug, she kissed my cheek and reminded me of her address—that she had insisted I write down when we were still on the airplane—and told me I had to come visit her, “I’m usually in the garden.”