I met her on the plane. I was already sitting in the aisle seat when she threw her ginormous purse around and asked, “can I get into the window seat next to you?”
I pulled my legs in tight to my body and she jumped right over them. Two minutes later the flight attendant crossed over my seat to ask if she was actually sitting in her assigned seat.
Earbuds in, she only responded to the small touch of the flight attendant on her shoulder.
She pulled out her ear bud closest to me, and looked at the attendant.
“Excuse me, what did you say?”
“Maa’m is this your assigned seat?”
Uhhhhmm, no. It’s up in 20 E (this was the row of 32 D).
“Well I’m trying to put two people seated apart together would you mind moving back to your seat?”
“Ahhhhh, nope. I need to sit in the back of the plane. That’s why I’m always the last one on.”
This seemed to be a true statement since I’d been on the plane for 15 minutes and no one else had gotten on the plane for awhile. She was the last person on the plane. She picked an empty seat and sat where she wanted. One seat away from me at the back of the plane.
The flight attendant looked at her with wide, confused eyes and didn’t seem to know what to offer as an answer.
She lofted the ear bud hanging from the side of her body back into her ear, as if there was no more discussion to be had. That was it. She was gonna sit in the window seat in the last row of the plane.
All the confidence.
With one empty seat between us. So sure of herself. There was no other option available. Nothing to discuss.
I was sitting in the last row of the plane on the aisle. She was across one empty seat at the window and I wanted to feel as sure of myself as she felt..
My name is Rosie. I’m an artist. I’m 8 years old. I can’t wait to see my dad in Seattle and my mom is setting up a website for me to share my art with the world. It’s not out yet, but will be soon.
When I actually meet her for real I’m drawing on my sketch pad. She drags her ginormous purse over the middle seat, sitting empty between us, lodges it under her own seat, takes her right ear bud out again, and looks over at me,
“Wow, thats some great work!”
I’ve been drawing since I was 4 years old and it took me a long time and honestly a lot of using different artist apps on my IPad plus watching YouTube videos to learn how to draw Anime. It’s the style I like to draw and I hope one day I’ll be an artist.
Weirdly, I tell her all of this.
She smiles, “Girl, you’re already an artist. You’re doing it. And that piece you’re drawing now shows amazing talent. You get to be exactly who you want to be!”
I smile, because it feels nice to have someone see how much I love being me and doing what I love. I’ve been living in my grey beret with glitter stars on it for more than 6 cold winter months, and no one I know wears berets. Only me.
I kinda feel like she would though. If she had one.
I’m also wearing a lace skirt and no one I know does that. I don’t really fit in and I still feel kinda okay about it.
Lately, it’s been harder to make friends and be myself. I care about fitting in more than I used to. I’m not great at it and have started to worry I might be so different than everyone else.
I’m really excited to see my dad in Seattle and be with my friends out there all summer. I used to live there. My mom decided to move to Minnesota. I love her. Also, so excited to go back. And really nervous too.
I look left to her at the window seat and smile. She smiles back and tells me her name is Lisa.
“That’s my aunt’s name.”
She laughs and says it so crazy but she’s an aunt too. She has 12 nieces and nephews and her littlest sister has another baby coming too.
“It’s gonna be lucky 13.”
I can hear her music through her earbuds, but she leaves the one closest to me out of her ear, hanging in front of her, and I know it’s because she wants to be able to hear me if I ask a question or want to talk to her.
She pulls a magazine out of her bag under the seat and starts to read. I turn a page in my sketch book and look over at her again.
I start to draw.
I pencil out her face, hair, and outfit. I like her. She sits quietly reading and subtly lifts the shade on her window up. I wonder if it’s because she knows I’m drawing her.
When I finish I tap her on the shoulder because she’s still reading.
“I made a drawing of you.”
She gushes. Not in a fake way. More like, genuine awe of my talent and also me being myself so confidently. I inhale and breathe the feeling in. It’s really good.
I feel seen.
She tells me it’s an honor I’ve drawn her. Then continues…
“I literally came from the frame store yesterday with 4 new pieces of art to have framed and add to my art wall. I’m going to take precious care of this and take it to the frame store too. I can’t wait to put this on my art wall. I now have an original Rosie. It happened in the moment. There’s no copies. It’s the only one made. Ever. Do you know how much this is gonna be worth in 20 years when you’re living your life as an artist?”
I stop for a second. Is she for real?
“Priceless. I wouldn’t sell it for a million dollars.”
Quiet. Solid. I feel a little more confident. I’m pretty awesome and this has been a good trip so far.
I look out the window and notice fluffy clouds passing by Lisa’s window. It’s her window. She’s a window girl. I already start to get it.
Everything she sees brings possibility. We talk a little more. She’s a former fighter. Really? She’s been on American Ninja Warrior. I think I’ve seen her and she assures me I haven’t. She was cut from the show but still got accepted both times she applied. Really? She’s been in movies too, as a stunt double so I wouldn’t recognize her even if I saw the movies. Really? Yup.
“Teach me your ways.”
She laughs out loud.
“You already got this. Stay where you’re at. Be who you are. It’s amazing.”
I think, Really?
I tell her. It’s hard out there. I get teased a lot for being so unique. I’ve had a lot of hurtful comments thrown my way.
I feel like she gets it. So I continue,
“I really want to give up sometimes. I just want to fit in and not have the hard stuff, my dad tells me it’s gonna be okay.”
“Rosie, it’s often hard. You know my dad always told me ‘this too shall pass’ and I hated hearing it. Until one day I got it. Sometimes stuff is hard. Sometimes it’s easy. Either way, it will pass. And your dad is right too, it’s gonna be okay.”
My nose starts bleeding. It happens to me sometimes with pressure change and when Lisa points it out I stuff a napkin up my nose and she laughs.
“I couldn’t write this, ” she says.
We have so many laughs about the napkin crumpled up, hanging out of my nose and how funny it is plus all the memes we could create with it (if we were gonna take pics but we’re not, cuz I’m 8 yrs old and I know not to take pics with people I meet on planes) and the things we would say about it.
*napkin hanging out of the nose
Meme: I didn’t trust gravity
*napkin hanging out of the nose
Meme: This happens all the time
*napkin hanging out of the nose
Meme: No, it’s okay. I promise.
After what feels like a thousand laughs we’re ready to land. It takes awhile to get off the plane and when it’s finally our turn to stand up she pulls her ginormous purse out from under the seat and slings it over her shoulder.
But I shout out,
“Hey, I’m going to miss you Lisa”.
Walks towards me and hands me a pencil bag.
It’s cool with pink and white writing on it and says FLY, F.L.Y., First Love Yourself all over it.
“This is for you. F.L.Y. girl, First love yourself. Always. Just so you know, one of my favorite flights of all time and I’ve had some epic flights too.
It’s all I have to say, and she’s already walking up the aisle and off the plane. Moving the other direction. To wherever she’s going. In my mind I imagine it’s someplace magical.
She probably thinks so too.
“Best flight ever.”