Absorbed in my reading, I barely registered the stream of beautifully articulated Spanish directed at me. A bit stunned, I looked up dumbly, a blank, laconic stare toward the Argentine stewardess.
“¿Señor, que quiere cenar?”
My empty expression belied my many studious hours practicing Spanish. I couldn’t even think to ask her to repeat herself.
“In English, sir?”
“Uh, yes, please. Mi español no es muy bueno. Gracias.”
A small portion of airplane-grade dinner invaded my tray table, an amalgamation of chewy pasta, dry cheesecake, a tiny wedge of brie, and a salad consisting solely of romaine lettuce and chopped asparagus.
As the strikingly pretty woman continued down the aisle, I could only then recall the numerous ways I could have indicated, “Otro vez, por favor.”
I wondered how Karsten was doing, seated in my row but on the complete opposite side of the plane, five people between us. A few seats back, Kevin, chatted easily and amicably with the attendant on his side of the cabin. She doted a moment as he layered on his irresistible charm, making it impossible for anyone to ever dislike him. I felt a slight pang of jealousy as he bantered with the gorgeous flight attendant. It appeared that the moment he spoke a little Spanish, every Latino he met (especially the women) became immediately disarmed, or even charmed.
I squirmed and wiggle in my seat, not unusual for me. It has never really been possible for me to sit still. Underlying my jitters, though, was perhaps a little anxiety. Air travel had never seemed so foreign to me. I was painfully aware of my place as a gringo.
Pushing these feelings aside, I returned to my reading. The stories in the American Alpine Journal helped to take my temporarily subdued psych and bring it back up to at least a simmer, if not a full boil. I was going to need it to get through the coming weeks, I was sure.
My friends were only a few feet away, yet I felt detached, almost alone, surrounded by people with whom I lacked any real capacity to converse. Normally, I would not necessarily have even wanted to speak much with those around me on the plane anyway, but now it seemed vitally important. I squirmed more in my seat and tried to settle in. I attempted to sleep.
|Wrestling luggage as we wait to check-in for our flight to Buenos Aires.|