I was at Newark Airport awaiting my trip to San Francisco when a young man nearby stretched and tricked his figure elevated hallelujah-style. A tattoo thumping his forearm, started at his wrist and then disappeared into an Army-fatigue jacket.
After staring for a while, I returned into the AARP magazine on my lap. I wondered if his mother disapproved of what he had done to his body. My four adult children didn’t have any tattoos, thank heavens, I believed.
An Unwelcome Seatmate
When I stopped and buckled in, that tattooed arm clicked its owner to the seat with me. He flipped his long auburn hair, sending the wavy locks. He appeared to be within his mid-thirties.
I was a 65-year-old, conservatively dressed but not dowdy grandmother, still blond with my hairdresser’s assistance, and a small-business proprietor in Manhattan, though originally from a parochial New England town. The Longchamp back at my feet held reading for the flight taking me into some writer’s conference.
“Hello,” my seatmate explained, since I opened my book. “Where do you think we’re now?” He asked, tracing the route in the inflight magazine and leaning on the narrow armrest to look outside my window. I mumbled “probably upstate New York” and returned to reading.
Somewhere across the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, my conscience was jabbed at by a debilitating memory, enough to share it beside me.
Why was he talking to me? We had nothing in common. I wanted loneliness.
Getting to Know You
Once the meal cart came, he declined. He had with the chairman of a toy store the evening before at Manhattan’s pricey 21 Club, though I had not inquire why, he said it couldn’t compare with the turf-and-surf meal.
I then discovered that my seatmate has been the lead guitarist for the favorite Guitar Hero video game which simulates a rock group. Inspired wannabe celebrities, their parents, by kids and even celebrities, the set list covers generations of metal guitar musicians and legendary rock. The digital places alter from basements to stadiums as the player’s ability improves.
The only tool I played with was a plastic ukulele but that was as a kid and only till its strings broke. Guitar Hero and I certainly had never played with.
“No drug references, violence or vulgar lyrics in your match?” I asked.
“No medication or poor behavior for me personally,” he explained.
“It’s a joy to fulfill a more positive role model. How can you get this far?” I asked.
His passion for the tool started at 14 after his mother bought him a guitar at a pawnshop. When his friends did drugs, drank or drove around, he’d practiced. After his parents’ crying union, which ended in a divorce, he ripped him aside, he played with songs to drown them out. The fingers on his left hand were slightly lengthened. He was amazed by the game’s victory that attracted travel and fan adulation.
Finding Common Ground
Although he expected to wed his corporate-world girlfriend, he awakened about The Mile High Club. When an blond returned into a seat, he asked what I thought of her.
“You’ll need a night flight and a vacant rear row using blankets to join a club,” I said.
“You seem to know what you’re talking about,” he said and leaned into me. This was then I noticed his eyes which revealed a soul.
“I fly frequently, and I am guessing at the specifics,” I said and giggled.
Somewhere within the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, also a debilitating memory jabbed at my conscience, enough to share it with the young man beside me.
“Your passion for your craft resembles my passion for writing.” I mentioned.
When I was in my thirties, I was in an unhappy, verbally abusive marriage. Driven to compose, I invested lonely nights pre-computer days, at my kitchen table. After I daringly registered in California, my oppressive husband cautioned that if I attended, our marriage was finished. In the return flight home I shouted concerning the pending divorce but had no regrets over my exhilarating stand at the occasion.
“It is important to confront life with no mask rather than pretend conformity,” I advised my seatmate. He nodded in agreement.
“It is also important to touch base and to be relieved,” I said, including I was younger and sexier in those days. It struck at me that I would not have advised my kids that narrative.
“You are still hot,” he explained softly.
Speaking About Tattoos
Despite our budding kinship, I couldn’t get beyond his outrageous tattoos. I asked why it had been completed by him.
He shot me a get-over-it-lady glimpse and rubbed the octopus layout. He lifted his T-shirt to show a vine tat that started at his armpit, swirled down his bony side and disappeared into his jeans. I was really horrified.
“Do not you know when you’re much older people tattoos will turn a putrid blue? Your skin will sag with jagged images?” I scolded.
He reduced his eyes because he consumed my insult.
“Well,” he explained. ” I knew early on I would not sit in any boardroom. Everybody in my creation with ink can sag, too.”
When he ready for a nap a bit afterwards, he clamped on earphones, shaded his eyes with wrap-around shades and then pitched the jacket over his mind. He resembled a captured swimmer, but that I was the one sitting with my prejudice against tattooed individuals in plain sight.
Throughout the airplane’s descent and together with his knee bends against mine, I nudged him awake, regretting our flight was finished. Waiting to disembark, he cried at a friend rows away who wore spiked hair, a nose ring and an arm that was inscribed.
“Hey, nice talking to you,” my seatmate explained, because he hoisted his bag from the carousel and waved goodbye.
“The pleasure has been mine,” I replied.
A Lasting Impression
A year later, my son met me at his kitchen. A 45-year-old crane operator, he’s a Deadhead and also a family man, with a character that matches a room.
“Hey, Ma,” he said, lifting his top as he turned. “Like it?”
On his back was a totally etched portrait of the family. When he moved his shoulder, then the trio moved.
And what did I consider a skull and crossbones because of his other arm?
As I struggled to respond to this query, I recalled my impressive seatmate.
I could still picture him leaving the airport terminal, so which tattooed arm draped over his buddy’s shoulder as they disappeared into the crowd. He had helped me create a thing that I was particularly thankful for in this moment, a much-needed mindset adjustment.
“Proceed,” I advised my son.
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