“Viens, viens, mon amour,” I say to Arabella as she struggles to put her last Mary Jane on.
“Attendre maman,” she calls out. She buckles her shoe and runs over to me, placing her little hand in mine. “Where’s dad?”
“Can I have the window seat?” A smile spreads across my face. We had this conversation when we bought these tickets and a million times in the car.
“You know the answer to that question.”
“Maman, are we going to miss the avion since papa’s en la toilette?” I laugh. She has been speaking frenglish for a while now, but it still melts my heart when she speaks it.
“Don’t worry sweetie, we got here in plenty of time,” I say and rustle her hair.
“Non!” she says, smoothing it out. “Keep it straight.”
“Bella,” Conor says, coming out of the bathroom and scooping her up. “What do you say to you and I going to get some yummy Jamba juice?”
“Yeah!” she says, giggling. I take her backpack and Conor’s bag and head towards the gate.
When I first found out I was pregnant I completely freaked out because I knew my mom wouldn’t want me to get an abortion but Conor and I weren’t in the steadiest place. Conor had moved to Paris when we decided to live together, but once all the small fights began, he started looking for one-bedroom apartments. I just didn’t want to raise a baby alone. My mom kept having to convince me that everything was going to work because I had a steady job and would be able to pay for help, but I couldn’t shake the fact that my baby might not have a father. After all, growing up with my dad were some of my best memories.
This may sound lifetime movie-esque, but I could tell Conor got on board when he first held our Arabella. Her eyes were still closed and she was screaming her head off, but she was perfect and he knew it.
I set our bags down on a couple of empty seats and close my eyes.
“Excuse me,” I hear. I open my eyes to see a girl around ten years old standing next to me. “Are those seats taken?” she asks, looking at the couple of empty seats next to the ones with our bags on them.
“Oh no, go ahead,” I say and look up at her mom who is trailing behind her. Something about the woman makes me pause and search my mind. How do I know her? Does she just have one of those faces? Her brown hair falls loosely down by her shoulders as she makes sure she doesn’t hit anyone with her bags as she makes her way to the seats. The moment she sits down, she looks at me smiling. We stare at each other for a second before she turns to her daughter and hands her, what looks like, her ticket.
“Keep this with you,” she says. I know that voice. Not well but I know it. Then, all of a sudden, I remember. Remember that one day years ago, when I was just a little naive teenager. I had met her in this exact airport heading to the exact place.
“Jenna.” She looks up.
“Charlotte, I knew I recognized you,” she says. “How are you?”
“I’m good. Wow, it’s been, what, fourteen years?”
I always knew my daughter was going to be like me. Even when I was a teenager I always had the image of me and my daughter doing the exact same things that my mom and I used to do together. Ever since Juliana was born, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.
When my mom finally moved out to San Diego, I spent a year there with her before going back to New York, getting my degree and starting work at Cosmopolitan Magazine. At one cover photo shoot I met Tim. He was the photographer and I fell in love with him the moment he put down his camera and asked the stylist to show a little bit more skin around the stomach. Juliana only made our love stronger.
“Why are we here so early?” Juliana asks, as I hand her her carry-on.
“You know me, I don’t like to have to rush at the last minute,” I say, looking at the check-in desk to see that is it pretty much empty.
“Whenever grandma and I travel, we always rush.”
“Yeah, that’s why I don’t like to. But when you are older, you can rush your family as much as you want,” I say, closing the trunk. I walk over to the driver side of the car and hand my mom the keys.
“You know, Mom, you can open the trunk with a button up by here,” I say looking around for the button.
“I know, but it’s so much easier with the keys, sweetie.” I roll my eyes at her and lean in for a hug. “I don’t want you guys to leave.”
“I know, Mom, but Juliana has school and I have work. We will come out again soon. And next time, we’ll bring Tim if he doesn’t have work.” She looks up at me with the same eyes she has been looking at me with for years. A feeling of love and protection floods out of them. I kiss her cheek letting her know that we will always be here for her.
“Juliana, come give grandma a kiss.” She walks over and leans in, whispering something in her ear. They both laugh.
“You’re turning out to be a beautiful young woman. So much like your mother,” my mom says, caressing Juliana’s cheek. “I love you.”
“Love you too.”
Being my daughter, Juliana stands in the check-in line and the security line listening to her iPod and texting away.
“Can you please find us a couple seats while I check the status of our plane?” I ask, Juliana getting no response. I pluck one of her headphones from he ear.
“Juliana, I ask you to find seats.”
“Okay, I will,” she says, putting her earphone back in. I look at the departures board to see that our flight is on time. Perfect. I look over at Juliana who is talking to this woman. I walk over to her and attempt to get through the small crowd of people’s legs without bumping them with my bags. I had her her ticket and look up at the lady Juliana had spoken to. She is looking at me with a slight questioning expression on her face. I smile at her, but am slightly puzzled how I know her. Is that Charlotte from a million years ago? I would look like an idiot if I ask her and was wrong. Plus, my daughter would be embarrassed but that’s minor because when do I not embarrass her?
“Jenna?” the woman asks. I was right! I really need to learn to take chances when I think I might be right about something. All through high school and college I would think I knew an answer and would spend five minutes trying to get up the courage to say it on the off chance I would be wrong and then someone else would swoop in and say my answer and get all the credit. Not that this is the same thing, but still. A quick note to self.
“Charlotte, I knew I recognized you,” I say. “How are you?”
“I’m good. Wow, it’s been, what, fourteen years?”
“Fourteen years.” I look over at Juliana, all plugged in, and give her a small nudge.
“What?” she says, adjusting herself in her seat so she is not as close to me.
“I would like you to meet Charlotte. I met her here fourteen years ago.” Juliana looks at me as if to say, ‘that’s fantastic Mom.’ She then looks at Charlotte, smiles and says, “it’s nice to meet you.” She goes back to going though her iPod trying to drown out the current situation.
“She’s beautiful,” Charlotte says.
“Do you have kids?” All of a sudden, this little girl comes running up to Charlotte holding a cup of Jamba Juice shouting, “Jamba se tres tres bon!”
“This,” Charlotte says, lifting her up onto her lap. “Is Arabella.” I look at Arabella in her little pink dress and Mary-Janes and see Charlotte. “And this is my husband, Conor.” I look at Charlotte who smiles, blushing.
“The Conor?” I ask, smiling. She nods.
“We’re only missing Savannah,” Charlotte says. And, like clockwork, we hear a familiar voice.
“Charlotte? Jenna?” We turn towards the voice and see the missing Savannah, all grown up. Her once simple blonde hair is now up in a half ponytail. She is wearing a sleek black dress that catches every curve of her body and black high-heeled boots.
“Savannah,” Charlotte and I say in unison.
“No, no I said for the plants to be outside the door not inside. How are they going to get the sun they need if they are inside? Just put them outside, water them and then call me when they get there. Things will be fine. Put a small smile on your face, and greet them. I’ll fix things when I get there.” I here a faint ‘ok’ then hang up. I always get stressed around the time I’m supposed to show someone a house, but this one is all the more important because it’s for a client with money and the real estate market is not amazing right now. I had another one of these clients last month, but I had accidently showed them a property that had tulips along the walkway and during the showing, her allergies started acting up and had to leave right away. About a week ago I got a call from our office in New York asking me to help sell one of their larger condos in downtown TriBeCa (my friend works there). So here I am, in the San Diego Airport heading to what I once considered my home away from home, New York.
I take out my phone and quickly call my mom. When I graduated from Columbia, I moved back home until I got job at the real estate office, when I began to pick up business, I bought my own place. It’s only a couple minutes away from Mom’s house so we have dinner with each other at least once a week.
“Yeah, I’m at the airport. I’ll make sure to get you something in New York if I have time,” I say, simultaneously looking for my gate. “I love you too.”
As I see gate 23 ahead of me, I check my phone to see how long I’m going to have to wait. As I get closer, I scan the area for empty seats, then, out of nowhere, I hear my name. I turn around to see Charlotte and Jenna sitting with what could be their families.
“Charlotte? Jenna?” They turn around and look me up and down.
“Savannah,” they say in unison. Charlotte takes one of her bags off a seat for me to sit down.
“Wow,” I say. “How long has it been?”
“Fifteen years,” the young girl next to Jenna says looking at all of us.
“Oh,” Jenna says. “This is my daughter, Juliana.” She smiles at me.
“It’s nice to meet you,” I say.
“And this is Arabella,” Charlotte says, tickling the little girl on her lap, having her start giggling all over the place. I can’t believe they have children. We all friended each other on Facebook, but never got around to actually seeing each other again. Soon, our friendship on Facebook became a regular friendship on Facebook: you have them added but never actually communicate.
“So, wow, fifteen years. That’s crazy. And it was in this very airport,” I say looking around at everyone.
“How are you Savannah? You look amazing.”
“I’m good. It’s surprising how much changes, and doesn’t change, after so many years.” They all nod.
“Do you have any children?” They ask. I shake my head.
“No, but I’m thinking about adopting.”
“Wow, that’s fantastic,” Jenna, says. “You would be a great Mom.” I look at Jenna, remembering how strong she was the last time I saw her and how scared I was about everything. It feels so nice to know how my life has turned out. They all look like they have had pretty full lives themselves.
“What do you all do?” I ask.
“I work at Cosmopolitan Magazine,” Jenna says.
“Wow! That’s really amazing,” I say, smiling at her. I turn to look at Charlotte.
“I’m a stay at home mom for now. I might want to go back to my job as teacher once Arabella is fully settled in school. What about you miss glamorous?”
“I’m a realtor.”
All of a sudden, an announcement comes on over the loud speaker.
Attention passengers on flight 86 to Newark. Due to severe weather conditions in the area this flight is now delayed.
We all laugh.
“Déjà vu,” Jenna says.
“Maman, je suis ennuye,” Arabella says.
“She’s bored,” Charlotte says, laughing.
“I’m sure Juliana would be happy to take you around. There’s a cozy corner over there where you guys can play,” Jenna says, pointing to the area where we all met.
“Good things happen there,” I say, remembering all the advice they both gave me there, and the first week back in New York. We all smile at each other as we watch Arabella and Juliana walk off together.
“Sweetie, you think you can take Conor and have some boy time while we have some girl time?” Charlotte asks Conor, who smiles and nods. Soon, we are all alone in the same terminal we were all in fifteen years ago. We look at each other, unsure of what to say. We never truly had an amazing friendship, but the small amount of time we spent together, and the small comforting messages we left on each others Facebook that one week, impacted us even if only for a mere second. Perhaps our friendship lies within this airport and here alone, but we should always know that, in fifteen years, we might meet here again.
Attention passengers for flight 86 to Newark. Due to severe weather conditions in New York, this flight is cancelled.
Again, we all laugh.
“I guess you never realize what’s going to be important until time passes without it,” Charlotte says.
“But at least we get a chance to relive it and appreciate it,” I say. Jenna smiles and takes both of our hands.
“This time, can we promise each other that we will at least have one dinner together in New York.”
“Deal,” Charlotte and I say in unison. We all stand up, holding our phones with each other’s numbers on them.
“Promise,” Jenna says, walking towards the cozy corner as Arabella and Juliana emerge from there.
“Promise,” Charlotte says, reaching her hand out for Arabella.
“Promise,” I say, winking at them. I promise.
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