I arrived at the airport last evening, flustered and stressed from the days activities and my workload. And one more all day out of town meeting on the horizon. The stress was a build up of the past week - I had plenty of time. The security line was non-existent. I got a 15 minute chair massage. Arrived at the gate early. Theoretically, I should be cool as a cucumber by now.
"If we could see passengers Joe Blow and Mrs. Chako at the reservation desk . . . "
Not sure what it was about, I wandered up. Stood patiently with my bags, waiting for a young gentlemen who was trying to get his mother and grandmother on the flight to Guadalajara via LAX.
When he finished, the gate agent turned to me. "I assume you're Mrs. Chako?"
I smiled sweetly and nodded. He asked for my boarding pass, and began typing furiously. Ripped up my boarding pass. "Aisle or window?"
"Aisle," I said.
Printed a new boarding pass. First class. Things were definitely looking up.
* * * * *
I sat in my black pinstriped suit, looking exactly like I belonged in first class. Like I'd paid to be there, rather than just gotten a gratis MVP upgrade. Drinking my Bailey's on the rocks, alternating with the sparkling water with lemon and lime. Reading my advance preparation material for the next days meeting.
The gentleman in the seat ahead of me across the aisle didn't quite look like what you'd expect a first class passenger to look like, but I don't make judgments. This is Seattle, after all. All of our millionaires wear jeans and fleece and stocking hats and don't shave. He slept a good portion of the trip, read the in-flight magazine . . . typical traveler without an agenda. Kept his hat pulled down, a few strands of hair peeking out.
As we approached LAX, he woke up, and the cabin lights reflected on his face. Late 40's, early 50's. Lines starting to etch themselves in his cheeks, the corners of his eyes. Not unattractive, just marking the passage of time. His eyes were pale blue, reflecting in the dim light. I found myself staring, occasionally. The set of his jaw looked familiar, and I tried to place the resemblance.
By the time my brain processed, I realized I'd missed a couple opportunities to get a better look. I went to the bathroom again, but it was hard to look without staring, and he was turned away. The nagging familiarity continued, made even stronger by the general scruffiness. I could picture it clearly. Although in my head, the blue eyes were even bluer, but I'm sure it's probably just tricks of the trade.
We landed, and he stood to get his bag out of the overhead. The old man in front of me stood, as well, taking an extraordinarily long time. I had enough time to observe that he was slightly taller than me, as I expected, but the old man blocked my view and my progress.
By the time I got out of the plane and down the jetway, I was pretty certain. I walked out into the open terminal, which wasn't crowded, at this time of the night.
I spotted the hat across the way. Watched Viggo Mortensen's back leave Terminal 3 and head out into the Los Angeles night.