I met Karen* on the shuttle between the Yoga Centre and the Albany airport. She was wearing a faux leopard skin coat. It caught my eye immediately. ‘I love those coats’ I thought, although I don’t have the guts to wear one. I’ll be seen. And I would rather blend in with the sea of dark colored coats around me. We were both travelling to Toronto. When we arrived at the airport we went our separate ways before meeting up again at the flight check- in area. Unbeknownst to us, we would be spending alot of time together in the 24 hours ahead.
As I sat in the waiting area for the twin engine flight to be readied for its trip to Toronto, I considered for a moment the idea that I’ve kept to myself quite a bit on this trip. But rightly so. It was my downtime to be spent as I wished. As there was time to kill before the flight I wondered silently to myself “Maybe Karen would like to go for a ‘coffee’. We can get to know each other and it’ll give me a chance to step out of my cozy inner sanctum.” Karen kindly agreed and we went to the kiosk just across the isle from the check-in desk. No boarding call on the loud speaker to call us back. All was well.
When we came back, hot drinks in hand, we returned to a couple of seats in the lounge just beside the check-in desk. There we sat, talking and talking about Yoga. We’re both teachers and teach in Vancouver. We seemed to have so much to say about Yoga lineages, Yoga philosophy, and practical things like where to teach, and who to teach to these days. I’m teaching to recovering addicts while she’s teaching to folks with HIV. We were both engrosed in conversation. I don’t even think I took a sip of my drink! When there eventually was a lull in conversation I noticed not only was my paper cup still full, but the little twin engine plane that was sitting on the runway was no longer there. ‘Karen’, I said sheepishly. ‘I think we missed the plane. I saw it pull in and park. It was there on the runway when we sat down, but it’s not there anymore.’ Ugh! I could feel the panic welling up in my body. ‘Oh my god! Now what?’ We asked the attendents at the check-in desk if the flight was called. They said it was. That our names were called too. I turned to Karen and asked, ‘Did you hear the flight called? Did you hear our names called? Because I didn’t!’ She didn’t either! Woha! Talk about dissociating from the moment (or two). Could a conversation be so engrossing that you couldn’t even hear the sounds of human voices on a speaker system? Apparently it could. The flight had departed. Karen and I were left to our own devices in a strange airport, in a strange town, and each with a stranger to boot. The so called helpers in the airport weren’t that terribly helpful either, or even kind. But we found our way to re-scheduling our flights, calling our families and letting them know of this unexpected turn of events, and then finding a funky little place near the airport to stay for the night (another story for another time).
The next morning we made the flight to Toronto as scheduled. All flowed smoothly again from there. When we arrived at the Toronto airport we said our good-byes and went our separate ways. Karen to a small town in Ontario, and me back home to BC. But what an expensive lesson this was in both time and money. It took so much more of each to re-learn the economy of paying attention.
* not her real name