Rose and Jake were in the latest “semi-on” phase of an on-again, off-again relationship that had been hanging on for years. It took a four-hour plane ride to show her how off it actually was.
“We’d been dating for probably four or five years and had gotten engaged, and the minute we did, he became a different person,” Rose says.
So Rose gave the ring back and moved out of Jake’s house. But Jake was sorry and he missed her, so a year after being on her own Rose moved back in again.
“The minute I moved in for the second time, things started to get bad again,” she says. He would do little annoying things like leave town with his car on business, giving her no way to get around the suburb where they lived except by foot or train.
But she was still determined to make the relationship work, so when he called from another business trip and asked her to fly up for the weekend, she said yes. She had a free ticket and a first-class upgrade, so she rushed home to pack, raced to the airport in the rain and jumped on the plane.
There was a man in the first-class seat next to hers. They buckled up together, and just then a voice came on the loudspeaker announcing that the plane would be delayed on the ground because of to engine trouble. Everyone should please remain seated.
Rose and her seat-mate Brad spent the two hours on the ground talking. They spent the two hours in the air talking. They didn’t pause for a second. And basically Rose believes that in those four hours she found a soulmate. Someone she felt perfectly comfortable with, someone who understood her.
When they landed, they found it almost impossible to say goodbye. They were the last ones off the plane. Then they walked very slowly down the tunnel leading to the gate area. Rose had told Brad that Jake would be waiting to pick her up. She knew she might never see him again. She had given him her work number (she couldn’t give him her home number, she lived with Jake) but she didn’t know what would happen.
“When we stepped into the waiting area, it was completely empty except for one man standing there with a single red rose — my boyfriend. I quietly said goodbye to Brad and walked to the wilting rose.”
The rose might have been a metaphor for the relationship. Rose and Jake spent a miserable weekend together. Her mind was on Brad and Jake knew something was up. A year later she said goodbye to Jake for the last time–. A great deal of her courage, she says now, came from that encounter on the plane.
“Jake and I had never talked like Brad and I talked on that flight. When I met Brad, I realized there was someone out there I could connect with.”
Rose would like to say that it doesn’t matter that Brad never called her. She learned an important lesson from her meeting with him. But she still wishes he had called. She thought about him for months after the flight.
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