I am nervous. It isn’t only the flight that makes my pulse race, but it is the knowledge that in a few hours, I will be able to look into his eyes, to hear his real voice, to feel his arms around myself and to smell his scent. All for the first time.
This is not my typical self. I was never the adventurous type, I prefer to live my life as straight-forward and predictable as possible.
But then I met him. A lot of things are different with him. We met on the web. It was never really my world and meeting a man and falling in love? That was for fools only. He made the first step, chatting me up and at first it was only meant to be fun and distracting for me. Banter and flirting, where’s the harm in that? Slowly though, his emails and the photos he sent me day after day, became the highlight of my mornings. And now I sit here. In a tin can that is about to fly me across the ocean and to him, and I only have a one-way ticket.
The plane starts to move and takes me out of my reveries. The flight will be long. There will be time to worry and to be happy and to be afraid too. For now, my hands are clammy as the trees become a blur and I get pushed into my seat. Takeoff. Silent tears stream down my face. I am not able to stop them and I am too panicked to make a sound. I look out of the window, grabbing the armrests until my knuckles become white, and I can only see the clear blue sky. I look past the row of other passengers and look out of the opposite window. I can only see green fields. My hands grip the armrest that separates me from the empty seat next to me tighter, and my fingers hurt, but I am ready letting go. It’s becoming my safety. And then plane seems to have reached its travel height. The tension slowly fades away and I breathe relieved. I am not really afraid to fly, I am panicked for the takeoff and with no one by my side, to soothe or distract me, that fear is almost overwhelming. Once the plane is up in the air, everything is okay, I have to sit by the window though. I need to see everything around me, the fake control calms me.
I am giving up my old life for him. I sold everything I couldn’t fit into a few bags, I gave up my job and my flat, only to fly into the unknown. A new continent, a different language, no job, no apartment and I have never even met the man in person. He is supposed to take me in and help me get my feet on the ground over there. What, if he doesn’t like me? What if we don’t get along? And what if he is a creep? Before I can rile myself up too badly, I feel my eyelids becoming heavy and I slowly drift off into a dreamless sleep. The Xanax is kicking in.
Next thing I know is that a flight attended wakes me up and asks me to fasten my seat belt. “We are going to land soon.” Did I actually sleep almost six hours? In a plane? Alone?
The plane lands effortlessly and I breathe again. It feels like the first since I woke up this morning. The landing is never as hard for me as the takeoff, because of the pure knowledge, that soon there will be solid ground under my feet again.
People scramble their belongings together and make their ways to the exit, where a flight attendant waits and says good-bye to every passenger. I like this. It’s nice. It’s normalcy.
As soon as I enter the terminal, my heart begins to pound in my chest. The inevitable moment is close. I don’t have to wait long at the baggage claim. My bags come early and I heave them onto my luggage cart. I hate to steer those things because they never go in the direction I want them to go, but with a bit of effort, I push it to the exit. Ropes separate the newly arrived from the ones being there to pick them up. My heart beats so fast, it threatens to burst my ribcage. It’s an unpleasant feeling. I see people falling into each other’s arms, crying happy tears and clinging onto each other. Families, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons… Different people who arrived at their destination. Not me. I am an alien.
The crowd slowly dissipates and I am still looking for the one person who was set to pick me up. I’m beginning to fear that he isn’t here, but then, through a group of laughing teenagers, I see a man holding up a poster. SHELLY, it reads. That’s my nickname. It is him. I feel hot and I smile. I don’t want to do it, but I can’t stop or hide it. It takes me a moment to get my legs moving. They are like lead and trembling as if I had never taken a step before.
At first sight and from the distance, he is even more gorgeous than he was in his pictures. I see him stretching and rising on his tiptoes. He is scanning the crowd with a frown. I can see the exact moment his eyes land on me and he recognized me. A bright smile erupts on his face and I know it was mirroring my own.
Step by tiny step, we get closer to each other until we both stop in our tracks. Only three steps separated us and I see his face becoming serious, the smile faded. How do I approach him? Are there any rules for this? I am unsure what to do, my instinct tells me to run away from this weird situation, but my body doesn’t want to obey. And I don’t know where to hide anyway. Dreadful moments pass and I wait. Frozen. Unable to act or react.
“Shelly,” he whispers almost inaudibly, because of the busy people hurrying to get to their planes and the ones hurrying to get home. I nod, not knowing what else to do.
The poster glides from his hands and slides to the floor while he takes another step towards me. Feet are walking over the white sheet of paper. The suspense and anticipation are killing me. My heart still races and if nothing happens now, the moment passes and we will never get it back. I can’t contain myself any longer and almost jump into his arms. He catches me with ease. He is shorter than I had imagined him to be, but he is still a few inches taller than me. My body fits his perfectly. I bury my nose in his neck and smile when I noticed his scent. It is an aphrodisiac for me. His arms come up and circled my waist almost lifting me off the floor and I laugh happily. The sound is bubbling out of me. His arms feel like home and I haven’t even heard him say more than a whisper.
My hands cup his cheeks and I scan his face. I look into his eyes – beautiful light green eyes. I take a step back, not to walk away, but to get a proper look at him. His cheeks are stubbly, just how I love it and his ginger hair is cut close to the head, but not too close. He is gorgeous. His lush lower lip begs to be kissed and again, it is me, who takes the first step and I kiss him hesitantly. He kisses me back and pulls me closer to him. All of this is shallow and I know it, it is appearances and superficialities, but I already know the person hiding inside.
Reluctantly, he lets go of me and now, he looks me up and down, making me slightly uncomfortable. Mere moments ago, I did the same to him and I feel a little ashamed that I did. What does he see when he looks at me?
“Let’s go home,” he says smiling and with a grunt, he gets my luggage cart to move and pushes it towards to parking lot.
Time and time again, we look at each other, only to shyly look away again. We load my bags into his truck and he comes around to open my door. His truck seems huge, but every car I see here is. I am not in Kansas – Europe – anymore.
Before I can climb into the huge vehicle, he holds me by the wrist and spins me around. I stumble into his arms, but again, he catches me with ease. He lowers his lips to mine and then, kisses me passionately. I’ve been kissed before – a lot, but I’ve never been kissed like this before. It takes my breath away and leaves a warm feeling inside. My heart skips a beat and it is as though an electrical shock rushes through my entire body. I am aware of how silly it sounds, even more so because I used to make fun of people saying this. But wow… If I had doubted my decision earlier, now I was sure to be at the right place with the right person.
“I am glad you are here. Finally.” His voice is gentle, but deep and a little hoarse. I like it very much and I wonder what it will sound like in the morning when he wakes up. It occurs to me that I will hear it soon enough and it makes me smile again.
“You must be starving. Would you like to go out on a dinner date with me?” he asks formally. It takes me a while to find the right words and my voice, but I accept his invitation. Of course I do. We seal the agreement to our first date with a long kiss. A car honks and we break apart. We drive off. Destination unknown.