Not too long ago I found myself stranded in Los Angeles, California, betrayed by the man I had hoped to spend the rest of my life with. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is NEVER easy to find out that the person you’re with is being unfaithful, but, finding out that the man I am in love with is actually in love with someone else (while I’m 2000 miles away from home visiting him) is probably the shittiest thing that has ever happened to me. I had no where to go, no one to turn to, and no clue of what to do next. All I knew was that I needed to get out of there. We got my airplane ticket transferred so that I could leave early to be with my family and even as angry as I was, I knew that saying “goodbye” was going to be so hard.
He drove me to the airport at 4:30 a.m. the next morning and couldn’t stop apologizing. He seemed upset, but I genuinely don’t think he will ever feel the immense pain that I felt knowing he must have stopped loving me at some point in the few months prior. When I turned away from the car and started towards the entrance to LAX, I lost it. Every bone and muscle and joint in my body hurt and I couldn’t keep myself from sobbing as I retrieved my boarding pass. Thank god for the self-service kiosks! I wasn’t composed enough to talk to an attendant.
I wiped my eyes and tried to breathe as I walked down, what seemed like an endless hallway, towards the start of the security line. By this time it was 5:15 a.m. and there were a total of 12 people going through security, including me and the hipster with a guitar case behind me. I wiped my eyes and continued to sniffle, but stopped crying long enough to find my ID and get ready to hand my pass to the guard. As we got closer, I could hear the short, automatic responses between the guard and people in front of me – it was very clear that he wasn’t happy about being at work so early.
“Ticket?” *beep* “Enjoy your flight. Next!” were the extent of the words he exchanged with the few people in front of me while he scanned their passes. When it became my turn, I mustered up the best smile I could manage and handed over my license and boarding pass. To my surprise, he smiled back and began to make small talk… commenting on the baseball shirt that I was wearing and asking about their star player. This is the kind of conversation that I would generally thrive on! I love sports and I know everything there is to know about Bryce Harper and the Nationals. But this morning was different, it seemed obvious to me that this nice, male security guard, with a beautiful smile, was trying to cheer me up, not caring why I was so upset, but caring enough to make it go away. I’ll never be able to thank him for engaging me in conversation, albeit short and mostly one-sided, I appreciated the effort so much more than I could have let on at the time. Especially when I had rounded the corner to slip my shoes off and we continued to make eye contact. He finally gave me a brief side smile that seemed to say everything was going to be okay, before turning to the person in line behind me and saying, “Ticket?” *beep* “Enjoy your flight. Next!”
I slumped into a seat at my gate and stupidly texted my ex to tell him I made it. It didn’t take long for him to respond, “If it makes you feel any better, I am a mess, the second you walked away I lost it.” OF COURSE THAT DIDN’T MAKE ME FEEL ANY BETTER!
That one text would make me start blubbering like a baby again, enough to startle the woman sitting across from me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid her forever so I lifted my head and made eye contact with her. “Are you okay? Would you like some water? Or part of my granola bar?” She quickly asked me. I smiled, knowing that if I was in her position, I, too would have offered this young, crying girl, the granola bar right out of my mouth.
“No, thank you. I’m just having a rough day.” I proceeded to give her a few details because she seemed interested in helping me in any way she could. She was very genuine and so kind, and she is another person that I will never be able to express my sincere gratitude to. She said some very kind and encouraging words before we parted ways and boarded the plane to Chicago.
I was a mess the whole flight, thankfully the guy next to me was asleep so I didn’t have to worry about explaining myself again. I sat back and tried to escape by reading Amy Schumer’s new book of short essays about her life, unfortunately this didn’t help as much as I anticipated, but I did get a few laughs!
We landed in Chicago and at that time I had a little over an hour before my next flight, the flight home to Jacksonville. I stepped off the jet bridge and started looking for signs leading me to the next terminal when I heard someone say my name. I turned to face the kind woman from the last airport and she said, “Ally…. I have been thinking about you the whole flight and I know that I only got to chat with you for a short time, but I just had to let you know that you are so kind and so genuine and I know you’re hurting now, but you’re going to find someone who is so much better suited for you. I just know it.”
I couldn’t have asked for a better stranger to confide in. I hope I made it clear to her how much I appreciated all of the nice things she said to me, but, I may never know. I may never be able to tell her how much that meant to me and how that encounter would be the only thing that helped me keep my sanity long enough to get home.
My flight kept getting delayed and pushed back due to mechanical issues and weather in the Carolina’s. And progressively I got sadder and sadder. I never asked for help and I don’t think I looked like I needed any, either. I really just wanted to find a bar to sit at and drink my sorrows away, but unfortunately for me, they were all full and had long wait times. We ended up being delayed 6 hours and during that time, I met a very nice lady who was traveling alone to visit her sick sister, she was so thoughtful and never once asked me why I was so sad, but went out of her way to cheer me up, she made sure I was well fed and entertained. We sat together and just talked for hours about nothing important, but she is a third person, from the same day, that I may never see again to thank.
So, thank you kind security officer who didn’t HAVE to smile at me, and thank you dark haired woman who hugged me when we exited the plane – I hope you’re right about me finding someone better, and thank you lady who helped the delay to Jacksonville go by a little faster. You all honestly made light out of such a terrible day for me, probably unintentionally, and for that I am forever grateful. I just hope some day I will be able to return the favor with kind words or a smile to someone who needs them as desperately as I did that day. My faith in humanity has been restored and for this I thank you.