“Congratulations!”

A memory i’d almost forgotten about has been washing around in my head a lot over the last few days; it’s the time of year no doubt.

I was waiting in the departure lounge to get on the flight to Chicago that would reunite me with Coppell after months apart. I was excited yet nervous, as we’d not been in the same room for months, and although we had Skyped, emailed, texted and spoken almost daily, and Coppell had bought me the plane tickets, there was still a part of me that was worried I might get stood up, not picked up from the airport or find that he was married with kids.

I made small talk with the gentleman sitting next to me; he was older, Asian and impeccably dressed in shirt and tie and navy trench coat. He had a considered manner in talking, with a low burr of a voice and a spark to his eye; we talked about our backgrounds and reasons for travelling, and pondered whether all of the passengers were actually going to get on the flight as it was so busy. He told me he and his wife were travelling back from Paris to their home in Chicago. He had lived there for thirty years, but as he was now retired he was getting abroad a bit more

His wife came and sat next to him and I listened to the two of them converse in Japanese; she was also Asian, and I noticed she was slightly hesitant in tackling some of the words she was reading from a book they were looking at together, with her accent very different from his. It was clear that he was guiding her through the pronunciation of a word every so often, and she seemed to appreciate the guidance. She went to check something with the attendants at the gate desk, and me and the man went back to conversing.

He told me that his wife was Japanese-American, and that they made a good team as he would help with her Japanese whilst she helped with his English, as he occasionally stumbled even after thirty years. I told him I was going on to Pittsburgh to see my boyfriend (I used the term for brevity, as I still felt weird using the term), who i’d not seen in over two months, fallen for over the course of days, and that I was a bit nervous.

“Oh, travelling for love? Congratulations!” and he shook my hand.

They began to call people to the gate for boarding; he and his wife bid farewell to each other and then she went down the fast lane to Business Class, whilst he remained seated near me. “She’s a business woman, so deserves to fly business class… I’m retired… I am happy to sit in economy.”

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