Seat Buddy

I met a kind soul on my flight back from Denver yesterday. He introduced himself at 5:35am as “your seat buddy,” then later as Greg. His scraggly hair peaked out from under his flat billed skater hat, acne speckled his chin and he sipped a McDonald’s smoothie while he offered to hold my soy latte as I got situated in the dreaded middle seat on Spirit airlines flight.
We shared stories about our trips to Colorado as the flight attendants reminded us how to buckle our safety belts and where the exits are in case of emergency. I learned that Greg has dreams of bridging the gap of those awkward computer geek type and the saavy businessmen, “I’m good with both,” he says, “I want to do IT but bring my social skills to the game.” While telling me this he devoirs an Egg McMuffin. He asks why I was in Denver, what I do in Chicago–he was fascinated by my stories of travel and how I’ve ended up where I am now. He listen intently until the person across the aisle sneezes, “bless you,” he says with out missing a beat then continues asking me questions and answering mine.
As our bodies remember that we had to wake up at 4am to make the six o’clock flight our conversation wanes. The captain announces that we’ve reached 35,000 feet and Greg offers me a headphone with softly playing music pumping through–the band reminds me of high school. A band I’ve literally listened to for a decade and a half. We both nod in and out of sleep for an hour and wake to notice the sunrise happening above the clouds near the heavens.
We chat more, about the music, about the sunrise, about how I’m turning 28 next week and how he hates living the in the suburbs–he shares that he knows he needs to finish school and stay home to help his mother who has fallen ill in the last year.
As the plane lands we acknowledge we survived. “I never get this tight with people on an airplane. It was a pleasure meeting you Sloan.” He hands me his cell phone to put my number in to “Ya know, grab a drink in the city sometime.”
“For sure,” I say as I hand him back the phone.

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