As previously mentioned, during the bicentennial summer of 1976, my parents met on an airplane in Spain.
In one of those classic (and almost unbelievable) love stories, my parents were both on individual journeys to Europe to heal themselves-- Catherine from a not-quite-right young relationship, Michael from a painful divorce involving a very young son as well as an existential mid-life moment.
Catherine's parents lived in Barcelona and her summer with them had come to an end. In the airport, she burst into tears in her mothers' arms, having not discussed her inner turmoil all summer long. There, at exactly the age I am right now, Catherine cried while her mother held her, dried her tears and spoke the lingering words "you will never leave him unless you truly believe you can love someone else..."
At this precise moment, Michael was running through the airport. Having missed his train to Paris, he decided to cut his losses and head home early. Searching for the gate, he placing his bags down on the ground to grab his bearings-- and then he saw it: two women, a mother and daughter, one comforting the other in tears. "Beautiful" he thought. And as the flight was called, he promptly made his way through the airport once again.
But they did not meet there.
They met on the airplane after the flight from Barcelona landed in Madrid.
Michael (one of those people who got up before the plane had touched the ground), passed Catherine (one of those people who waits until everyone is off the plane so she can take her time), and stopped dead-- it was the beautiful tearful woman from the airport. He spluttered, his tongue turned to lead, unable to speak, he feebly gestured to the beautiful woman that he would like to let her out in the aisle.
"No thank you, I'm just gonna stay here until everyone is off the plane..."
He stood still, staring at the beautiful woman who was reading a book to pass the time, a sea of angry Europeans fighting to get off the plane behind him. Still unable to speak, he feebly gestured again.
Catherine, starring at the gorgeous, tanned, European-looking man repeated, "NO. THANK. YOU..." she spoke up "I AM GOING TO STAY HERE UNTIL EVERYONE IS OFF THE PLANE..."
"Oh," he spluttered, "I'm really sorry.... to have spoiled your plans..."
Michael stared, unable to believe the lameness of his response, but Catherine found this man so earnest, so charming, and his response so delightfully sweet-- she burst out laughing and did indeed get off the plane. . .
But who would've guessed that Michael and Catherine both lived in San Francisco? Or that they would spend the remainder of that journey Westward together, slowly falling in love in the airports, on the planes. . .
When they got off the plane, they went their separate ways. But Catherine immediately returned home, packed up her apartment and drove to Michael's office the next day.
"Buenos dias," she uttered to him on the phone, "are you still in love?"
And she moved in. That night. And that was that.
Years ago, on the anniversary of this fateful plane journey, the three of us went out to dinner and the two of them told me the "whole story"-- the bits with the fully explored emotions, the little details, the kiss just before the landing... I don't think I'll ever forget the looks on their faces as they told me the story and relived the memories. "Her voice was... like a bell," my father said, "I just couldn't stop talking to her..."And mom almost blushed, her eyes gazing up at him, smiling.
Their relationship, their friendship, their marriage inspires me everyday.
So. In honor of what would have been their 30th wedding anniversary, posts about my parents...
Love. Keeps. Going.
8 Years On
Happy Birthday Mom
Father's Day - a list
and my recent favo(u)rite:
Men of Parts