“Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting go of a little water.” Christopher Morley
After another conversation packed, sleepless night, the perfect stranger and I shared a late breakfast with our Canadian snow geese neighbors. Our breakfast backdrop: a river float plane, only reinforced the inevitable reality of the day. In a few hours, the perfect stranger would be boarding a plane bound for Long Beach, California and I would be returning home to a pending winter in Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona.
On paper, our worlds couldn’t be anymore different. In practice, our hearts were kindred spirits separated by a zip code. I resided in a remote community that had one gas station and a post office. The closest supermarket was two hours away.
The perfect stranger lived in Long Beach. I had forgotten what is was like to have access to the modern conveniences of malls and medical centers.
The perfect stranger’s recreational playground was the Pacific Ocean while I had the Paria and Colorado River at my disposal.
I gave up a career in mental health to pursue a simple life outdoors while the perfect stranger turned her passion into a non-profit foundation.
As we packed up camp, the perfect stranger and I committed ourselves to a round two adventure. We considered our eight day maiden voyage as round one. Where would we spend round two? If I were lucky, I would get the opportunity to show the perfect stranger around my neck of the woods.
Our 60-mile drive to Kingman airport was a mixed bag of emotions and round one reflections. The songs playing on my mp3 player felt more like a love story soundtrack than just an indie music playlist. The genius of song writing is when an artist captures your thoughts and sentiment in a song. Seldom do I hear limbically driven lyrics in mainstream music. Thank god for artists like Garrison Starr, Lovers and Poets, Vicci Martinez, and Jamestown Revival.
As we exited Interstate 40 for Kingman Airport, the perfect stranger called her mother in North Carolina. Surprisingly, the perfect stranger introduced me to her mother via speaker phone. Her mother asked me about our adventure. I mentioned that the perfect stranger and I were finishing our trip with a fever and sore throat. How do you tell a mother you are sending her daughter home sick for the holiday season? You don’t! Instead, you jokingly threaten to kidnap her daughter for the holidays. The perfect stranger’s mother caught me off guard when she invited me to North Carolina for Christmas.
If I didn’t have my dog child Shadow waiting at home for me, I would have booked the first flight out to North Carolina.
Pulling into the Kingman Airport, the perfect stranger seized upon another photo opportunity. Looking more like a country general store, the Kingman terminal possessed real character and charm.
As the perfect stranger approached the check-in counter, she was greeted with a lecture about tardiness. We had arrived at the airport twenty minutes before the flight. This did not make the Great Lakes Airlines staff member very happy.
The perfect stranger did her best to remove the somber look from my face while her ticket was processed. I wondered if it was possible to be happy and feel sad at the same time? My happiness I embraced; however, the complete utter feeling of loss was overwhelming. How could I fall for someone in eight days? I was not looking for romance on this adventure; a new adventure buddy would have been enough.
As her plane landed, the perfect stranger was rushed outside to the TSA security check. There was no time for a long sentimental heartfelt goodbye; instead, it was a rushed embrace. All I wanted was simply to hold her.
I had no words to convey how I felt. Perhaps tears are simply unspoken words that run down your face. I felt exposed and vulnerable. Thankfully, my sunglasses created a safe haven from public view. In my twenty’s and thirty’s I seldom cried in public. I could hold back a tear like a dam sustaining a flooding river. On this day, the dam broke and I would never be the same.
My drive home to Vermilion Cliffs was one of self reflection. Is it really possible to fall for someone in eight days? The answer is, YES!! Was I hopeful that I would see the perfect stranger sooner than later? Most definitely!
I remember when I left southern California and my friends expressed concern about my future love life. How would I ever find Ms. Right living in the middle of nowhere? My answer was very simple. I wasn’t looking for love; however, I was hopeful one day she would find me.
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