Last week I went on business trip #2, this time to Philadelphia, and on the plane back, I had the most awesome seatmate. Our flight was delayed, and when we finally got to board the plane, I took my seat in the plane’s back row. Not long after, a blonde woman in her mid-thirties took her seat next to me. She was clearly drunk, and although the label on the cup she had said Pepsi, that wasn’t what was in it.
Before we took off, the stewardess came to us and, despite the woman’s protests, took the drink away. “I’m sorry,” she said in this really prim-and-proper voice, like she wanted to stay pleasant but still tell my seatmate off, “but you’re not even allowed to take this out of the bar, let alone on the plane!”
It turned out my seatmate (whose name was Melissa, but we didn’t actually do names until we landed in Boston) was also in Philadelphia for work, and she’d gotten to the airport early. Once she found out the flight was delayed, she was annoyed and just kept drinking. “So what do you do?” she asked me.
“I work in textbook publishing.”
“That’s really interesting!” she said, very enthusiastically. Now, that alone makes her pretty awesome, because no one ever says that. Someone once asked me what I did, and after I told him, he responded, “What do you want to do?” So Melissa asked me what my job was, and I told her about how I hire people to write supplements for textbooks.
“Oh!” she said. “So you have power!”
She kept cracking me up for the rest of the flight. Being the proverbial three sheets to the wind didn’t stop her from asking the stewardess, when she brought the drink cart around, if she could have light beer. (No alcohol on this flight.) And when the plane was landing and we were supposed to have our seatbelts on, Melissa wondered out loud if she could sneak into the bathroom and avoid pissing off the stewardess more. (Incidentally, the stewardess did notice and said loudly, “You have got to be kidding me!”)
She asked me what I was doing over the weekend, and I said that the next day, I was going to see Sex and the City and go out with some friends. “That’s it?” she said, as if I’d said I was going to stay home and clean my room. “You’re young! You’re in your twenties! Go out! Do some shots! Meet some guys for me, okay?”
My favorite thing she said, though, was after I’d talked about how expensive housing is around here and how I don’t think I’ll ever be able to buy a house (which is a subject for another entry). Melissa looked at me. “Five years,” she said. “In five years, you’ll have everything together and everything will all work out.”
Now, a drunk woman on a plane is most likely not a prophet, but that kind of gave me hope nonetheless.
Five years. A lot can happen in five years. In five years, I may have moved up the ladder at work. I may have moved somewhere else. I may have published a book. I may be in a relationship. Hell, I may be married. And maybe, somehow, I’ll have found the money to buy a house.
Who knows if all that will happen to me, in five years or ever? But the bottom line is that it could.
I think when you’re in your twenties, it’s easy to feel like you need to get everything done right now, or that you’re behind everyone else. While you’re in school, the rules are clear: you go to school, work hard, get good grades. But once you graduate from college, the rules disappear, and you try to figure out what they are by watching other people, and there’s always something to make you feel like you’re doing things wrong. You work in retail while your friends have full-time jobs. You still live at home while your friends have their own apartments. You can’t even get that guy at the bar to notice you while your friends are getting engaged. And even when you get what you think you want, it turns out not to be so perfect. You hate your job and wish you’d decided on something else, or things don’t work out with your significant other, and meanwhile, you have no money. You wonder why people younger than you are getting promotions, or how it is you missed out on meeting the love of your life in college.
But things can change pretty quickly. I know I’m light years happier now than I was just a year ago, so when I think about everything that’s happened to me in the last couple of years, it’s not unfathomable to think that things could be much different in five.
Wow. I’d intended for this entry to be just a quick, funny story about a plane ride, and I ended up musing on the entire nature of existence as a struggling single twenty-something. All because of a drunk woman on a plane.
Five years. Thanks, Melissa.